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How to Plant Lilac Bushes

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plant lilac bushes in full sun for an old-fashioned addition to a garden.

Lilacs are old-fashioned shrubs that signal the arrival of spring to many gardeners. Once lilacs finally bloom in mid-spring, they fill the air with a sweet scent that is like no other. Lilac bushes range from dwarfs to bushes as tall as trees. A gardener has many different lilac colors to choose from as well, from white to lavender to deep pink and purple. Plant lilac bushes in full sun where they will be sheltered from harsh winds during the winter.

Work the garden soil to break up any large clumps. Add approximately 1 inch of compost to the top of the soil to improve soil drainage, if necessary. Work the compost into the soil completely.

Dig holes large enough for the root balls so that the lilac bushes will be at the same depth as they were in the temporary pots. For single lilac bushes, space the holes between 10 and 15 feet apart. To create a short hedge, space the lilac bushes approximately 2 feet apart (from center to center). To create a medium-height hedge, space the lilacs approximately 3 feet apart (center to center). To create taller hedges, space the lilacs up to 6 feet apart.

Remove the lilac bushes from the temporary pots and place them into the holes. Fill in the soil around the roots and pat the soil down firmly around the base of the plants. Place a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants to keep the soil moist and prevent weeds.

Water the newly planted lilac bushes well and then make sure the lilacs receive 1 inch of water every week during June and July to help them create blooms for the next growing season. Gradually decrease water amounts in August to prepare the lilacs for winter, but do not allow the plants to wilt. Give lilac bushes one last large watering in late autumn after they have become dormant for the season.


Things You Will Need

  • Spade
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Lilac bush
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • The pH level of the soil may change the color of the lilac blooms.


  • Do not plant lilacs near buildings because roots may grow under the building foundation and create damage.
  • Do not fertilize lilac bushes at all until after they have been growing for more than two years. Many lilac bushes do not need fertilizing at all.

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.