The Q&A Archives: Lilac Flowers

Question: How can I get more flowers on my lilac bush? Last year we got a lot of flowers, but not many leaves. This year the leaves look great, but we got very few flowers that were very small. We live in Richmond, VA.

Answer: Lilacs bloom better after a pronounced winter chill which sometimes explains why they bloom better one year than the next. But, lilacs also spend the summer months developing flower buds for the next spring's floral display. If these buds begin to open and then experience a late spring frost, the buds can die and you will get no flowers. Lilacs don't really need to be fed - they get what they need from the soil - and too much nitrogen fertilizer can encourage lots of new growth but at the expense of flowers. You can prune your lilac back now to encourage new growth. The plant will still have time to develop flower buds later this summer. I'd prune it back by several inches (and up to one third). Your lilac will respond to pruning by producing lots of new (flowering) stems which will help it maintain a full and bushy look and provide lots of places for flowers. Best wishes with your lilac.

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