How to Plant & Care for a New Lilac Bush


With their fragrant blooms perfuming the spring, lilac bushes are a common landscape shrub. Planting lilacs is not difficult and should be performed either in the fall or in the spring. Planting during other times of year will stress the lilac due to too hot or too cold weather. Homeowners can choose either a container or a bare-root lilac sapling. Lilacs grow best in hardiness zones 2 to 5, although some varieties can bloom in the temperate climates of zones 8 and 9.


Step 1

Select a site that offers your lilac bush full sun for at least six hours a day. Lilacs that receive less sun may not bloom. Choose a location with well-draining soil. Soak a bare-root lilac tree in a bucket of water for at least three hours prior to planting.

Step 2

Dig a hole for your lilac bush that's at least twice as wide as the root ball and only as deep as the root ball. Remove rocks or weeds from the hole.

Step 3

Prepare a soil mix of 75 percent garden soil and 25 percent compost or manure. This will be your backfill mix once your lilac is planted.

Step 4

Remove a container lilac from its container. Separate tangled or circled roots with your fingers. Place the plant in the hole and spread its roots with your fingers. Or, carry over your bare-root lilac bush and place it in the hole. Fill in the hole with your soil mix once you're satisfied with the placement of the tree.

Step 5

Water the newly planted lilac until the soil compresses around the base of the tree.


Step 1

Mulch the area around the base of the newly planted lilac with a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch. This helps keep the soil moist.

Step 2

Continue to water the lilac when the soil becomes dry. Check the moisture level of the soil by sticking a finger in the soil to feel whether it's dry. Dry soil indicates it's time to water until the ground becomes saturated. Gardeners should also watch for wilting; wilted leaves are a good indication the lilac bush needs water.

Step 3

Fertilize the lilac bush with a balanced fertilizer each year in the spring. Scatter the recommended dose around the base of the lilac and water the ground to work in the fertilizer.

Things You'll Need

  • Lilac sapling
  • Water
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer


  • Fox Hill Lilac Nursery: Care
  • Iowa State University: Lilac Care
Keywords: lilac tree care, grow lilac, plant lilac

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.