The Q&A Archives: Lilac Won't Bloom

Question: When I first moved in to my house my nieghbor had this big sweet smelling lilac tree by the corner of the fence.After years of admiring it I decided to get a lilac tree of my own. I got my lilac 6 years ago and it is a little under 5 feet with very little width when I got it looked fine but I've had this lilac for 6 years and it hasn't bloomed yet it is a very healty tree what should I do to encourage blooms I really don't want to give up on it, and get a new one.

Answer: There are several reasons for lilac not to bloom, but assuming the shrub is growing well, the most common is probably incorrect pruning. Lilac blooms on "old wood" and should only be pruned right after it blooms. Pruning later in the summer will remove the next year's blooming wood and/or flower buds. Other possible causes would be insufficient light (lilac prefers full sun), and possibly overfertilizing (too much nitrogen can cause an excess of leaves and reduced blooming) or less likely but still possible, underfertilizing if your soil is truly terrible. Another reason is immaturity, but after six years I would have expected a lilac (Syringa vulgaris) to have bloomed. Finally, there are some special, more unusual varieties of lilac which tend to be smaller plants and do not bloom until they have reached a certain age, so perhaps you purchased one of these.

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