Monday, May 6th, 2013...7:48 pm

How to get lilacs to bloom (Part I)

taas kukkia by Marko_K

My old fashioned lilacs, Syringa vulgaris, are blooming. For the first time in years, the flowers are blooming on my side of the yard as well as my neighbor’s side of the yard. Most years the flower display is best on my neighbor’s side. But, hey, what are good neighbors for?

The lilacs that I have that are in bloom are from my parents’ farm. These lilacs were babies from lilac shrubs that were on the farm for over 100 years. As far back as I remember the lilacs always had such a beautiful display of blooms every spring that my mother made huge bouquets of lilacs for us and for family and friends.

I have my lilac growing in between two Rose of Sharon shrubs, just as the lilacs had grown when on the farm so that I have lilacs in bloom in the spring and Rose of Sharon blooming in late summer.

I also have the dwarf Korean lilac, Miss Kim, that is filled with buds and should bloom right after the old fashioned lilacs stop blooming. The Korean lilac extends the lilac blooming season in one’s yard. (see here)  I got Miss Kim from a friend and this lilac has bloomed since the first year I planted her.

I do nothing special to either plant, no feeding or pruning. Miss Kim is in more shade than the old fashioned lilac and is very close to a spirea bush and in between a Japanese maple that self seeded and now is quite big and a humongous pieris Japonica shrub that is over 50 years old.

I tell you this because I have three other lilac bushes that are all the old fashioned kind. These were given to me by friends. Yet these three other lilac bushes do not bloom- the largest one does give me one or two bunches of flowers, but this year there is only one. Nothing is more frustrating than having a lilac bush or any other flowering shrub that doesn’t want to flower. Below are some of the things recommended to get lilacs to bloom. I have tried many but not all.  If your lilacs are not blooming, see if you have tried everything, too.

All my lilacs seem to get the same amount of sun. Lilacs do like sun and all are in well drained soil.

I try to see that there are no weeds growing around the base of the lilac, but this is the first year I mulched one of them to see if it makes a difference. On the farm lily of the valley grew under the lilacs.

Now I am a patient lady, so I know that it takes a number of years for some lilacs to bloom. It can take up to 7 years, though usually 3 years is long enough for a lilac to bloom. I am bad about keeping records of when I planted something but I think the largest of my non-blooming lilacs was planted about 7 years ago. Perhaps I should talk to it and tell it that if it doesn’t shape up and bloom, I will have to compost it. Some people claim success with threats, though never any trained horticulturists that I know. (Maybe they are afraid to admit it.)

In the next post, TheGardenLady will talk about some more ideas to get your lilacs to bloom.


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