The Q&A Archives: lilac

Question: I live in Southern California and in the last 2-3 years I purchased a lilac from Monrovia that grows in my area. When I travel to Utah and Wyoming, I see lilac that are very leafy and huge at this time of year and yet my lilac is looses its leaves in early October and hasn't grown very much larger than when I first planted it, nor has it ever bloomed. I know I am doing something wrong in regards to this plant, but I can't figure out what it is. Can you give me information for this plant that will help me be successful in growing it? Thank you, Amy McKeon

Answer: The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) will grow in your area, but may not bloom faithfully for you. Lilacs need a pronounced period of cold weather to bloom best, and yours is a mild winter area. For best performance your should grow one of the Descanso Hybrids that have been developed to perform especially well in Southern California. "Lavender Lady", "Chiffon", and "Blue Skies" would all be good bets for your garden. If you've chosen one of the Descanso Hybrids that were specifically developed for Southern California, your lilac may only need a little more TLC to bush out and begin to bloom for you. Lilacs prefer to grow in full sunshine, in average soil, with regular watering during spring and summer. Once established, lilacs grow lush and full and may need annual pruning to keep them within bounds. Prune after flowering to allow the development of buds for next year's bloom.

I'd feed the lilac early next spring (10-20-20) and keep the soil moderately moist but not soggy wet. It should be mature enough to bloom for you next spring.


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