French Lilac: Facts, Planting, Caring, and More

Who does not have utter love for French lilacs? Lilac is a flowering shrub that grows in the spring. You can find these flowers in different colours like cream, white, magenta, rose, lavender, purplish pink, and purple. It has a sweet and delightful fragrance, but for some people, it can be very overpowering.

The lilac is commonly known as Syringa Vulgaris. It is known to grow in the Northern States from mid-spring to late spring, often for two weeks. However, you can also find early season, mid-season, and late-season lilacs.

Lilac grows the best in cold climates, mainly as its growth needs a very long cold period so that the buds can mature quickly. If they face late frost, the buds are usually killed at that time; therefore, they should be kept in a protected location. The lilac can tolerate many soil types, but it doesn’t grow well in poorly drained or highly acidic soil.

When the growth weather, they Bloom steadily for six weeks at least. Lilacs are very easy to grow and require low maintenance. They are known to go from 5 feet to 15 feet tall as it depends on the variety. These fragrant and beautiful flowers are good to cut and decorate and also attract insects like butterflies.

Planting French Lilacs

Lilacs grow in humus-rich, fertile, neutral to alkaline, and well-drained soil. The ideal pH of your soil should revolve around seven. If the soil has poor condition, you should add compost to the soil to enrich it. For the lilacs to bloom completely, they should get at least 6 hours of sunlight; otherwise, they will not grow well.

When you water the soil of the lilac, you should make sure that the soil drains well; it is because the lilacs are unable to bloom if the soil has lots of water.

Shove a hole and fill it with soil, and then put the sucker in it. Water when needed, and in 4 to 5 years, you will have a fragrant and huge shrub of French Lilac.

If you want to transplant a lilac from the nursery to the pot, you can do it easily. If it is grown in a container, take it out of the roots when you are settling the lilac in the soil on the ground. You should plant it two to three inches deeper than it was and then put soil around the roots and water.

Make sure that you plant the lilac bushes 5 to 15 feet apart, depending on how much you want to plant and how much space you have.

How Can You Care For Your French Lilacs?

  • If you want to take care of your lilac, you should add a layer of compost every spring under the plant and also add mulch so that the moisture is retained and the weeds are controlled.
  • If the rainfall is less in the summertime, you should water it 1 inch every week.
  • Do not over-fertilize the lilacs as they are not going to bloom if they are over-fertilized.
  • Once your bush has ended blooming, spray some lime and some rotted manure around the bush. Later you should trim the bush in the shape you want and take out the suckers.

Pruning French Lilacs

The French Lilac blooms on old wood; that is why it is complicated to prune after they bloom in the spring. If you decide to prune sometime later, you will have to remove the woods. One of the tips is that if the French lilac bunches start reducing size, you must know that it is time to prune.

Every year after the lilac has bloomed, you should remove the wood that is dead.

Make sure that you prune the canes that are the oldest down to the ground. Later clear out the small suckers cut out the weak branches so that vigorous shoots start to appear. Lastly, cut the tall canes to your eye level.

If you think that your French lilac is in bad shape and is very old, you should cut down one-third of the old cane. You can also cut down the whole bush to about 8 or 6 inches high; it indeed is a drastic change, but lilacs are very hardy.

It takes a few years to grow back to its full size, but the good part is that it will grow with blooms bursting as it rises again.

If you wish to not lose the bloom for an extended period, make sure that you should take care of the lilac every year so that you don’t have to give drastic cuts to the bushes.

Disease Problems and Potential Pests

Several diseases and pests can be a massive problem for the French lilacs. Both the armoured and soft scale insects, which look like motionless bumps on the leaves and barks of the lilac suck the fluid of the plant. Due to this, the leaves start turning yellow, and the growth drops and slows down.

Other pests found on the French lilac include leafminers, mealybugs, nematodes, the fuller rose beetle, and the lilac borer. Some of the insects discharge honeydew which is a sweet yet sticky substance.

Honeydew looks shiny and does attract ants and develops the mould on the bark. Lilac pests are usually controlled by the parasite predator that occurs naturally unless these beneficial pests are disturbed by the dusty conditions of ants or the use of many pesticides.

Some of the diseases that bother lilacs are powdery mildew, foliage diseases, botrytis, bacterial leaf light, and leaf spot. The wood can also get diseases like oak root fungus, Wood decay, and verticillium wilt. To stay away from pests and diseases, one should

  • Sanitize the lilac properly by taking away the fallen leaves at their earliest.
  • Avoid watering overhead
  • Prune to remove the infected bark

If these precautions are taken, there are going to be limited or no diseases or pests.

French Lilac Hedges

Do you want to have beautiful French lilac hedges around your personal garden space? The old-fashioned and fragrant lilac makes an entirely natural and handsome hedge; however, it may take some time to fill in and start blooming. If you are looking for a more formal look, privet, boxwood or clipped are the best choices.

These hedges have their great glory in the spring season when they are blooming; however, they have pretty attractive green leaves throughout the summer. By following the step mentioned below, you can create a lilac hedge:

  • Get rid of weeds, rocks, and grass from the area you have to plant; after that, put 3 inches of manure or compost on the soil. Put in the amendments to the depth of 8 inches.
  • Alter the soils that are acidic with wood ashes or lime so that the pH level is raised. Treat the alkaline soil with sulfur or peat moss so that the pH level of 6.5 to 7 is achieved.
  • Make sure that you plant the lilac in the bright sunlight keeping every 4 feet apart from the other.
  • Water the plant well in the first year after you have planted it so that the roots become strong. Once they are strong, they become tolerant of the drought. In the spring of the second year, fertilize the lilac with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Treat pests and diseases. Take dormant oil and spray the plants to treat aphids, scale, or leafhoppers.
  • Remove the blossoms that have been spent after they have faded and do not Bloom more. Prune the old deadwood every spring so that the lilacs are vigorous and healthy.

Recommended Varieties

Some common and aromatic lilacs are of the S. Vulgaris variety are listed as follows;

  • The mid-season lilacs contain a “Firmament”, a fine blue, and “Monge”, which is a dark reddish-purple.
  • For the primary bloom, the “Charles Joly”, a double magenta is tried.
  • For late-season, exquisiteness consist of “Donald Wyman”, which is single purple, and “Miss Canada, a reddish pink.

The common lilacs like the cold weather; a few of them succeed as south as the 9th zone, amidst them the cut leaf lilac, a scented pastel violet. Syringa patula “Miss Kim” is an elegant and graceful plant with pale lilac-blue flowers that fade away to white.

Wit and wisdom

In order to boost the flowering of lilacs, the grass should be kept growing around them. A 16-24 inch circle of scenery cloth should be placed near the bushes and covered with bark or stone, which will help keep the grass down.

Moreover, force the winter bouquet from the branches of lilac. Bump the ends and set them up in the water, and then spray the branches often. Lilacs should be kept in a cool place till they start to bloom and then move to a warmer area.

The poet Walt Whitman thought about the lilacs after the death of Abraham: “when the lilacs last in the yard bloomed… I grieved and shall grieve with ever-returning spring.” Lilacs represent the pleasure of youth.

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