Do you grow the beautiful lilacs in your garden, or are you planning to? We couldn’t be more in awe! These colorful shrubs bring about a unique beauty to your gardens and backyards.
Lilac shrubs are hardy, low-maintenance, and easy-to-grow plants. They grow the most in northern states and regions with cool summers. Some species grow well in warmer regions too.
These scented plants draw in butterflies and hummingbirds, making your garden as picturesque as possible!
Are you worried about how to nurture and care for your Lilacs the best? Look no further! We bring you the best fertilizers for lilacs along with the best care tips. Read on to find out everything you need to know for growing the best lilacs.
How to Take Care of Your Lilacs?
Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to plant lilac bushes. You have to plant bushes at 5 to 15 feet distance from one another, depending on their varieties. They also require full sunlight for a minimum of six hours for strong flowering.
Lilacs love humus-rich, fertile, neutral to alkaline soil with a pH nearing 7.0 When nurtured well, it can grow up to 2.5 m (8 feet). Some varieties also grow up to 9 m (30 feet).
Healthy nutrition and proper care can ensure that your lovely lilacs live for decades. Along with regular fertilizing with the best fertilizers for lilacs, make sure to apply general care tips.
We got you covered. Learn all about general lilac care below:
How to Water Lilacs?
Water each lilac plant at its base. Make sure not to water overhead, especially when it is flowering. Blooms decline faster when wet. They could also be prone to mildew issues.
Once you plant your lilac plants, keep checking them often. You need to water them when the soil’s top inch gets dry. Water them only once or twice a week. Additionally, make sure that the area drains well. Lilacs do not bloom when too much water is present around them.
A good method while watering lilacs is to count till 10. It ensures that each plant gets adequate moisture. You will know if it is getting dry when its leaves start to droop.
After a few months, you can water them once every other week. Post the second growing season, lilac bushes do not require extra water except when there’s no rain for about a month. They grow best with infrequent yet deep watering.
How to Feed Lilacs?
Good plant food can help your lilacs to have healthy roots, strong leafy growth, and better blooms and production.
You have to feed lilacs after they bloom in spring. Make sure to give them good quality plant food and follow the directions given on the label.
Organic plant food usually consists of bone meal, feather meal, earthworm castings, and kelp. These ingredients feed microbes present in the soil that then furnish nutrients to your lilacs.
Lilac shrubs usually do not require much organic feeding or fertilizers. You can fertilize lilacs with a balanced NPK fertilizer in early spring. It promotes its blooming. During early summers, you can feed it with general-purpose fertilizers.
How to Prevent Diseases in Your Lilacs?
Lilacs are known to be very hardy shrubs. However, they can be susceptible to some diseases such as powdery mildew, bacterial blight, and leaf spots.
Make sure that your lilacs have increased air circulation to prevent these diseases. It is best to thin your lilac plants every year. It is also recommended to regularly clean all the fallen debris around your lilacs. It prevents any infections from spreading, if any.
Powdery mildew is one of the most common problems for lilacs. Luckily, you get some powdery mildew-resistant lilac plants in the market. You can choose these varieties to help prevent diseases in your lilacs.
Do not go for the spraying method because this fungal disease eventually goes away by itself. If it persists, then general fungicides can help to solve the problem.
How Should You Deadhead Lilacs?
An essential step in your lilac care is to remove the dead or faded ones. It encourages your plant to bloom more in the coming spring. You have to do this once new lilacs begin to flower. It may, however, easily take up to a few years.
To deadhead lilacs, cut off the faded flowers at its base. Make sure to do this as soon as they start wilting or fading. It encourages new growth and better blooms during the second blooming season of your lilac bushes.
You have to cut off only the faded flowers. Make sure not to snip the surrounding leaves and stem.
Be cautious not to cut off next year’s bloom. These will appear as two new shoots springing from a stem. Just focus on cutting the stem of the spent or faded flowers.
How Should You Prune Lilacs?
It is recommended not to prune your lilacs more than 1/3rd of the stems every year. When you prune your lilacs, they grow better with more blossoms. Fresh and smaller lilacs require less pruning in comparison to the larger ones.
For older shrubs that are not blooming well, prune them to 8 inches above ground level during late winter. The following year, around the same season, cut the best stems by half. You can cut the remaining ones to the ground. You will then see new flowers arrive next year.
Is there a best time to prune your lilac shrubs? Yes, there is. Once your flowers have bloomed then faded, it is the right time to prune. Shrubs that bloom in spring must be immediately pruned after they bloom. For older shrubs, prune them during the late winter.
To prune for size, cut back the stems as soon as the shrubs finish flowering. If you postpone this task, you may risk pruning the following year’s bloom as well.
When Is It the Right Time to Fertilize?
It is essential to use only balanced fertilizers for lilacs. If the fertilizer is not balanced, it can lead to heavy blooms or excessive foliage.
The best fertilizer for lilacs that is well balanced must be applied when the shrubs begin to grow actively. You need to fertilize them as soon as their canes awaken. It usually happens during the spring season, as lilac shrubs are deciduous.
When you fertilize lilac bushes in early spring, it promotes effective blooming. Make sure to use the right balance. Otherwise, it will lead to low blooming.
If you are fertilizing during early summer, always go for general-purpose fertilizers. Lilacs will not bloom if you overfertilize them. During late winter, lilac shrubs can handle a 10-10-10 ratio but not more than that.
Do keep in mind that lilacs do not require a lot of fertilizer. If the soil is already rich in nutrients, there will be no need to use fertilizers. Make sure not to use fertilizers more than once every year. It is best to use it only during early spring.
Which Nutrients Do Lilacs Require?
The nutrients that lilacs require are nitrogen, phosphorous as well as potassium. This ratio is generally referred to as NPK in fertilizers.
Every plant needs nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to grow. If they do not receive these nutrients in an adequate amount, they fail to bloom.
These nutrients are necessary for lilacs to have optimum health.
Nitrogen is known to be the most vital nutrient for plants. Plants absorb nitrogen more than any other nutrients. Adequate nitrogen levels are responsible for facilitating the healthy growth of leaves on your lilac shrubs.
Nitrogen is also necessary for the formation of proteins in your lilac bushes. This protein makes up most of the tissues of the lilacs. If the nitrogen levels are too low, it can lead to stunted growth, weaker stems, and discoloring of the leaves.
Phosphorous helps your lilacs to store and use energy, including in its photosynthesis process. It is responsible for the healthy growth of roots. It also enhances your lilac’s fruit and flower production.
Phosphorous is an essential nutrient that helps your lilacs to grow and develop. Without adequate phosphorous supply, lilac shrubs will not be able to complete their normal production cycle. It improves the quality of your lilac blooms.
Potassium is the nutrient that ensures that the overall functioning of the lilac shrubs is correctly performed. It strengthens your lilacs’ ability to resist diseases. You can also find an increase in production and its overall quality with adequate potassium levels.
Potassium also extends protection to your lilac shrubs from cold and dry weather. It strengthens the root system and prevents any wilting. Potassium ensures vital processes in your lilacs, such as nutrient and water transportation, starch, and protein synthesis.
How to Fertilize Lilacs?
It is usually not necessary to fertilize lilacs. It may be required only after one or two years after planting your lilac shrubs.
You can fertilize your lilacs with the best fertilizer for lilacs with a balanced NPK ratio. It gives your lilacs the required nutrients and ensures to remove excess acidity from the soil.
Lilacs that are grown in poor soil will require an annual feeding of fertilizers. It is recommended to use fertilizers with 5-10-10, 5-10-5, 10-10-10, or 20-20-20 ratio for feeding your lilacs.
Test your soil to know the right fertilizer type and formulation for your area as well as your lilacs.
Scatter or spread about 1 cup of fertilizer directly around the roots of the plant. Make sure to spread it evenly and then water the soil. Do this during early spring.
It is best to go for organic fertilizers or slow-release fertilizers when temperatures increase during early summer or late spring.
How Often Should You Fertilize your Lilacs?
You do not have to fertilize your lilac bushes very often. In particular, if your soil is already rich in nutrients, keep the fertilizer use to a minimum.
It is recommended not to use fertilizers more than once every year. Use it when the shrubs begin to grow actively. It usually happens during the spring season.
It is best to fertilize your lilacs during early spring. It promotes flowers to bloom more.
Make sure not to overfertilize your lilacs. They will not bloom with excessive fertilization.
What Kind of Fertilizer Should You Use?
Bone meal is known to be an effective fertilizer for lilac shrubs. It increases the alkaline levels of the soil. This natural plant food makes an easy nutrient intake for lilacs.
Commercial fertilizers with a good NPK ratio must be used for lilacs. NPK refers to the composition of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium levels in the fertilizer. They provide the necessary nutrients for the healthy growth of your lilacs.
Make sure that your fertilizer has a well balanced NPK ratio. Otherwise, it leads to heavy blooms and excessive foliage. Test your soil type before purchasing fertilizer. It ensures that your lilac bushes get the best formulation of nutrients.
Remember that lilacs do not require much fertilization or organic feeding. Make sure to apply only the necessary amount of fertilizer. Do not overfertilize at all costs!
5 Best Fertilizers for Your Lilac Bushes
You now know all about how to care for your precious lilacs. Let’s move on to the products that can aid you with this process. We have curated a list of the top 5 fertilizers for lilacs. Read on to pick your best fertilizers for lilacs.
NPK ratio: 18-6-12
Miracle-Gro’s Shake ‘N Feed is one of our picks for the best fertilizer for lilacs. This famous brand comes in different versions. Its Flowering Trees & Shrub variant is the best for your lilacs.
This granular fertilizer does not require much effort from your side. You can easily spread it around your lilac shrub. Then, lightly rake it into the soil. It is one of the best long-lasting fertilizers for lilacs.
Nitrogen is the dominant nutrient in its NPK ratio. Additionally, organic ingredients such as kelp, earthworm castings, and bone meal are included in its composition. It feeds the microbes in the soil and brings about an optimum balance that works well for your lilacs.
This product is specifically designed for flowering shrubs and trees. It efficiently ensures that the green foliage of your lilac shrubs is maintained.
This fertilizer is of the slow-release type. It can feed your plants for around three months. It ensures to keep your lilacs healthy throughout a season. You will have colorful bloomed lilacs all around your garden!
- Healthy and organic mix of ingredients
- Lasts longer
- Easy to handle
- Faster results
- Usually used as a complement which increases the relative price
- Difficult to seal after use
NPK ratio: Not available
This fertilizer is specifically made for lilacs. We must say that it does a really good job! TreeHelp is a unique fertilizer brand. They have academic backed perspectives on green life. You can be assured that their products release after thorough research.
Their fertilizers are a granular blend of macronutrients and micronutrients. This blend is customized for the exclusive use of a wide range of trees and plants.
The TreeHelp Premium Fertilizer for Lilac helps in the development of a healthy root system. It also prevents any attacks by diseases.
The vitality of your lilac shrubs becomes long-term with this fertilizer. It will feed your lilacs throughout the growing season. For newly planted lilac bushes, this product works very well. It also comes with a detailed document with all the necessary instructions.
This fertilizer is specifically tailored according to the needs of lilac shrubs. The slow-release nitrogen alleviates weaker new lilacs. It effectively enhances the cell walls. Defense against adverse weather conditions and pests becomes easier for your lilacs.
- Specifically made for lilac bushes
- Long-lasting with ingredients of slow-release
- Well researched formulation
- Promotes strong root development
- Not a popular choice
- Not widely available
NPK ratio: 11-7-7
It is the best fertilizer in the easy-to-use category of products. It effectively feeds your lilac shrubs with the necessary nutrients.
It helps in foliar development and enhances the growth of roots. You can easily pour the granules into the ground directly from the bag. Make sure to rake through it for about 1 to 3 inches and water it well. It ensures that the nutrients directly reach your lilacs’ root system.
It comes in an easy-to-use resealable bag. With a generous quantity of macronutrients, this fertilizer works well to strengthen your lilacs. It facilitates growth and develops stronger roots.
This fertilizer comes with meticulously formulated ingredients. It ensures that your lilacs do not burn down when you use them according to the directions from the manufacturer. The duration of its feed is around two months.
You can apply this fertilizer every two months, especially during the growing season. Spring is the recommended season to start using it for the best results.
- Very easy to use
- Releases continuous nutrients
- Available in various sizes
- Lasts longer
- The composition works better with acidic soil than alkaline.
- The mix can be too strong for some soil types.
NPK ratio: 4-12-0
This product is the best organic fertilizer for lilacs. Down to Earth is renowned for its organic products since 1977. It is completely natural and free of any synthetic ingredients. Moreover, it is certified and approved by the Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI).
This product has an innovative approach to fertilization. It forgoes the standard formula of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium of most fertilizers. This fertilizer does not contain any potassium.
Does it work well for lilac bushes? Yes, it works amazingly. This is because the fertilizer has more primary and secondary plant-based nutrients. It also composes of fishbone meal and other organic ingredients. It is especially ideal for newly planted lilac bushes.
The fishbone meal enhances the levels of alkaline in the soil. It creates an ideal environment for the growth of your lilac bushes. It also comes with 14% calcium that helps in the healthy growth of your lilacs.
The product takes the organic movement to the next level with its compostable packaging. Its package is entirely made with renewable materials.
- Approved by The Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI)
- Does not use synthetics
- Compostable packages
- Contains calcium levels
- It does not contain potassium, so ensure a balanced composition with your soil’s pH
- Application takes more effort than other fertilizers
NPK ratio: 6-8-0
Burpee’s organic fertilizer is another best fertilizer for lilacs that we suggest. It not only works best for lilacs but also with other flowering plants.
This fertilizer is abundant with nutrients for your lilacs. It does not contain the standard NPK ratio like most commercial fertilizers. It instead consists of the organic composition of nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorous. It does not have any potassium.
This composition ensures that your lilacs not only survive but thrive! It facilitates strong roots. It is observed to help produce vibrant and colorful lilacs.
This fertilizer works best during the beginning stage and can be utilized in other phases as well. The earlier you apply it, the better it is for your lilac bushes. It boosts the growth of young lilacs and keeps them strong throughout the growing season.
It comes in a thicker consistency. All you need to do is grab one handful and just sprinkle it. Make sure to put it around your lilac’s roots.
It ensures that it does not get messy at all. You do not have to bother cleaning up later!
- Gives vibrant blooms
- Does not use synthetics
- Approved by The Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI)
- Easy to handle
- It does not contain potassium, so ensure a balanced composition with your soil’s pH
- Application is time-consuming and requires more effort
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You now know the general care tips for growing lilacs as well as the best fertilizers for lilacs. Are you still a little confused about growing lilacs?
We bring you the answers to some of the most common questions asked about lilacs. It will help you to tend to your beautiful lilacs in the right way.
1. Are Coffee Grounds Good for Lilac Shrubs?
Coffee grounds are very acidic by nature. You must use them for acid-loving trees and plants only. Lilacs, meanwhile, like soil that is slightly alkaline to slightly acidic. The pH must be around 6.5 to 7.0.
The soil is not favorable to lilacs if its pH is too low or too high. So, you can use coffee grounds for lilac shrubs. You may sprinkle fresh coffee grounds around your lilacs. Make sure to use it in minimum quantity only.
Coffee grounds are also a great source of nitrogen for your lilacs. However, if the soil already has high nitrogen levels, do not use extra coffee grounds. Excess coffee grounds can stunt the production of flowers and fruits.
2. Do Lilac Bushes Like Egg Shells?
Yes, eggshells are liked and good for lilac bushes. Eggshells are natural fertilizers and provide your lilacs with several valuable nutrients. If your soil is more towards the acidic portion of the pH scale, incorporate eggshells into your soil. They help raise the pH levels of the soil.
You can add eggshells to your soil at any time. First, crush them and then sprinkle them around the lilac shrubs. Gently turn them into the first few inches of the soil. Make sure not to damage the roots.
After you put eggshells into your soil, water them thoroughly. It helps the eggshells to properly incorporate into the soil. You can start the amendment by adding a small quantity for fall. You can then re-test in spring and accordingly add more amount if necessary.
3. Do Lilac Bushes Like Banana Peel?
Yes, lilac bushes do like a banana peel. Banana peel is a great source of potassium. They are known to contain around 42 percent of potassium that is a major component in fertilizers. Banana peels are, in fact, the highest organic source of potassium.
The potassium present in banana peels strengthens the stems of your lilacs. It also helps them fight off any diseases. The flower and fruit production of your lilac shrubs gets a boost! Additionally, banana peels provide calcium to your lilacs.
You can just bury banana peels around your lilac bushes. They will slowly release the nutrients as they begin breaking down. You can also make banana peel tea by placing banana peels into a jar. Make sure to cover it with water for a week or two.
You can then pour this liquid fertilizer directly into your lilac’s roots.
4. Why are Your Lilac Leaves Curling Up?
Lilac leaves can curl up for quite a few different reasons. Leaves curling up along with crispy edges are usually a sign of dehydration. It is a sign that the lilac bushes are not receiving enough sunshine and water.
Some insects like leaf miner insect can also cause your lilac leaves to curl up. Powdery mildew is a common disease among lilacs that causes their leaves to curl up. Overcrowded planting and shaded locations cause such disease.
Make sure that your lilacs get adequate sunshine and proper air circulation. It prevents diseases like powdery mildew. Meanwhile, spraying pesticides can keep away insects such as leaf miner insects. Also, ensure that there is sufficient spacing between the lilac bushes.
5. How Long is the Lifespan of a Lilac Bush?
The lifespan of a lilac bush is more than 100 years. Some lilacs even have a life expectancy of about 350 years or more! They have a long life mostly because they are very hardy and can grow with very low-maintenance.
The oldest surviving lilacs are known to be on the Mackinac Islands in Michigan, America. These lilacs were planted way back in 1650 by French missionaries!
A lilac bush takes about three years since planting for blooms to appear. It happens for the lilac bushes that you buy from a garden store or nursery. If you plant it with a seed, then the blooms may appear after another two years.
Lilacs bloom for many weeks. It is best to plant them in an area where they will not be disturbed. To prolong its bloom, you can grow many varieties of lilacs. It can include the early, late, and mid varieties of lilacs.
6. What Should You Plant Next to Your Lilac Bush?
You may be planning to plant other beautiful plants along with your pretty lilac shrubs in your garden. Lucky for you, several plants make great companions to lilac plants. These either look good next to lilacs or complement them in another way.
Spring-flowering bulbs are considered to be the best lilac companion plants by many gardeners. These bulbs bloom around the same season as lilacs. Bulb plants include tulips, daffodils, peonies, and hyacinth.
If you plant enough of these plants, you never have to weed the area!
You can also plant some small trees or flowering shrubs next to your lilacs. Weigela, Mock orange, Dogwoods, and Flowering cherries go well with lilacs. Such a variety of plants will make your garden a true utopia!
Lilacs are truly gorgeous! They will never fail to add a significant charm to your garden or backyards. These lovely plants are very hardy and low-maintenance. They, however, require good care and essential nutrients to bloom well.
With our general lilac care tips, you are all set to grow your very own lilacs! Make sure to properly fertilize them by choosing the best fertilizer for lilacs from our list of 5 best fertilizers for lilacs.
Your fertilizer must have a balanced ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. It gives enough nutrients to help your lilacs grow healthier and produce more flowers. Make sure to use it according to the directions on the package. Happy gardening!
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.