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How to Care for French Lilac

By Jason M. Bruner ; Updated September 21, 2017
French lilacs are known for their signature fragrance.

French lilacs are highly sought-after by gardeners everywhere. These hardy shrubs make their bold statements because of their bright blooms that come in a wide array of colors from whites to purples and even pinks. French lilacs are highly praised due to their drought resistant capabilities and their loud, signature fragrance. Growing to a height of 8 to 15 feet, French lilacs make excellent garden shrubs in just about any garden. By following a few steps, you will be able to successfully care for a French lilac in your own garden.

Plant the French lilac in well drained soil. Soil that pools water around the base of the plant will increase the chance of fungal growth and disease. Although the French lilac will grow in partial shade, planting the lilac in full sun will promote optimal growth, producing brighter colored and larger blooms.

Apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of the French lilac. The mulch will act as insulation for the roots and ground on cooler days in the spring and fall, and will aid in keeping down weed growth. A 3- to 6-inch layer of mulch will be substantial. You can purchase mulch at your local garden specialty store.

Use your fingers to pinch away dead blooms on the lilac. Removing the blooms will keep the shrub looking healthy and will promote new growth throughout the growing season.

Water the lilac weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the frequency of rain in your area, to ensure the ground around the lilac stays moist (not soaked). Even though French lilacs are drought tolerant they require plentiful water to thrive.

Fertilize the lilac at the beginning of spring when the shrub begins to sprout new growth. Use a fertilizer that is designed for shrubs or small trees and follow the dosage instructions depending on the size and rate of growth of the lilac shrub. You can purchase a fertilizer at your local garden specialty store.

Prune away any dead or dying branches from the French lilac using sharp pruning shears. Make your cut where the branch shoots from the main trunk, or about 1 inch from the ground. Use of sharp pruning shears is a must. Dull pruning shears will rip away the branches causing unsightly damage to the lilac.


Things You Will Need

  • French lilac plant
  • Mulch
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning Shears


  • Do not fertilize a thriving French lilac. Only use a fertilizer if the lilac is showing signs of distress or is not blooming.

About the Author


Jason M. Bruner is a freelance writer who has been in the field for more than five years. His content has been previously published on various websites.