The Q&A Archives: Few Blooms on Lilac

Question: I have tried cutting back my lilac (cutting one third of the branches within 12 inches of the ground) given in fertilizer- (miracle grow) and no matter what I do the bush only gives 4-5 lilac flowers. It is in an area with low light- (only 4 hours of filtered sun per day). What can I do to make it produce some flowers? I think the bush is old-maybe if I gave it a grow light ? Any help?

Answer: The key is lack of adequate sunshine. Lilacs need 8 hours of sun in order to bloom well. I think you're on the right track, though. Lilacs should be pruned immediately after flowering because they spend the summer producing flower buds for the following years floral display. Pruning encourages new growth and flowers will be at the tips of the stems. Lilacs need a pronounced winter chill. If your winters have been mild for the past few years, that may account for lack of flowers. I know you recently had snow so this winter may have been cold enough for your lilac and it should produce flower buds this summer for next springs floral display. I hope you don't have a late frost that might nip the flower buds before they can open next year. Aside from full sun, adequate water, no fertilizer and a cold winter, there's not much you can do to encourage more flowers. Best wishes with your lilac!

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