How to Propagate Lilac Bushes


The lilac bush is a popular perennial plant grown for the fragrant flowers it produces. Lilacs are a low-maintenance bush often planted as a hedge, because most varieties grow to a height of 8 feet or taller. Grow more lilacs by propagating your lilac bush through softwood cuttings taken in the months of May through July. Take your softwood cuttings--the green, new growth on your lilac's woody stems--to start new plants.

Step 1

Cut 4- to 6-inch softwood cuttings from new or 1-year-old stems on your lilac bush. Use a pruning clipper or sharp knife to make clean cuts.

Step 2

Place the cuttings in a plastic bag with moist paper towels to prevent water loss from the stems.

Step 3

Remove all leaves from the bottom half of the stem and all flowers and buds. This will focus the stem's energy toward rooting instead of flower growth.

Step 4

Lightly moisten sterile rooting medium with water, and place it into a rooting tray.

Step 5

Dip the lower cut end of the stem into powdered rooting hormone, and gently tap it to remove excess.

Step 6

Stick the stem into the rooting medium at a depth of one-third the length of the stem.

Step 7

Water the medium and cuttings, and place a clear plastic cover over the tray. This will increase the humidity around the cuttings to assist with root development.

Step 8

Place the tray in a warm location with indirect sunlight. The top of a refrigerator is an ideal location if light is available. Do not place the tray in direct sunlight.

Step 9

Monitor the stems for three to four weeks, keeping the medium damp, but not wet.

Step 10

Gently pull on the cuttings after three to four weeks of growth to check for root development. Resistance when you pull on the stem is a sign roots have formed.

Step 11

Transplant rooted stem cuttings to individual planting containers filled with sterile potting soil once the roots are at least 1 inch long. Grow the cuttings in containers for the first growing season to strengthen their root systems.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning clipper
  • Plastic bag
  • Paper towels
  • Sterile rooting medium
  • Rooting tray
  • Powdered rooting hormone
  • Plastic cover
  • Individual potting container
  • Sterile potting soil
  • Bleach


  • Weekend Gardener: Lilac Propagation
  • North Carolina State University: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings
Keywords: lilac propagation, lilac stem cuttings, root lilacs

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.