How to Grow Lilac Trees


The lilac produces a fragrant purple or white bloom in early spring and lends its name to a soft purple color. Although the most popular lilac for home planting is the shrub, Syringa vulgaris, also known as French hybrid lilac, there is also a lilac tree, known as the Japanese tree lilac or Syringa reticulate. These trees can grow up to 30 feet tall and up to 25 feet wide with an oval or round shape.

Step 1

Select lilac trees if you live in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 7. Lilac trees will not grow in warmer or colder zones.

Step 2

Choose a location in full sun with good air circulation.

Step 3

Plant each tree 15 to 25 feet apart. Lilacs planted closer together will take on a hedge effect.

Step 4

Prune lilacs immediately after flowering for best results. Remove baby plants at the base of the tree that can rob nutrients and energy from the tree. Additional pruning should be performed with an eye to keeping a strong central leader stem. Deadhead blooms to encourage more abundant blossoming.

Step 5

Refrain from using fertilizer on lilacs. Lilacs are not heavy feeders and too much fertilizer can result in the plant failing to bloom.

Step 6

Water once a week during drought periods. Otherwise allow nature to water your tree for you. Overwatering lilac trees can cause them not to bloom.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Syringa reticulata: Japanese Tree Lilac
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Landscape Design Students Renovate the Display and Trial Garden
  • NC State University: Pruning Lilacs

Who Can Help

  • NC state University: Syringa reticulata
Keywords: growing lilacs, Syringa reticulata, raising blooming trees

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."