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Lilac trees

Are lilac trees difficult to grow?  I have read that they are good for attracting various moths and butterflies, but that they need full sun to flourish.  We have a shady area, so I would like to know if anyone has a good lilac tree growing in shade and any advice please, thanks.


  • HouseFinchHouseFinch Posts: 327
    edited July 2019
    Surprised nobody has said anything yet ;) Lilac are ridiculously easy to grow IMHO. My understanding is, you get a shoot with any roots on it at all, put it in the ground-in spring preferably-give it a little bit of watering, and it will take care of itself. We have six plants I put in this spring along our south fence. Some are heavily shaded by other larger trees-and I do mean heavily. They are doing just fine. One of them has been regularly chewed on by some insect or other since early spring, but it just keeps regrowing leaves and carrying on.
    They are also in the rain shadow of said trees, but that has not stopped them from growing this year. In the first year you are advised to pinch out any blooms they produce, to encourage root development.
    My MIL has hers under a very large tree on a bank at the edge of her lawn-shading from both sun and rain-and hers has flourished every year.
    The only complaint that you might find is that they like to spread, so you will need to keep at the shoots in spring. Otherwise, a beautiful plant that will consistently bloom every spring.
  • Thanks for such a detailed reply @HouseFinch and confirming that the theory they need full sun isn't to be believed!  I am very keen on lilac, although the perfume can be a bit heady full on - however I am thinking of planting them far, far away from our house - at the bottom of a field with all the necessary preparation for them to hopefully thrive.  One thing I didn't ask - are lilac trees thirsty plants?
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,682
    We have a short "hedge" of lilac on a fairly dry bank half submerged by a big old apple tree. There are cherry suckers growing through it too. We are on the north side of a hill but they get a bit of sun for at least part of the day. We don't get loads of flowers but that is probably down to me hacking it back to stop it taking over.
  • HouseFinchHouseFinch Posts: 327
    I think all plants can be thirsty if given the choice :) but ours are growing just out of our sprinkler range, and I'm comfortable with their growth rate this year. My MIL's are in a much dryer area, and hers are very healthy. They have probably been there over 20 years.
    Once they establish their root systems, they seem to adapt. When they were planted, I watered mine every morning for the first week and a half, just to ensure they made it (we had a dry spell in early spring). Hope that helps.
  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376
    We have a couple and both get good  yorkshire sun, are in sandy soil, flower we'll.  The best thing is the trunk after time it looks great, but I understand theyre short lived trees.
  • I googled this fact @UpNorth but couldn't find anything to say whether the Lilac was long or short lived. We had one in our family garden, which was growing (albeit rather untidily) for at least 50 years and possibly more.  Was that just luck on the Lilac I wonder?
  • IlikeplantsIlikeplants Posts: 894
    My lilac cutting lived in a plant pot and then was put in the ground last year, it’s still very tiny but alive. It’s far down my garden so doesn’t get any additional watering but it’s still surviving. It’s in more shade than sun. No flowers yet.
  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376
    @Guernsey Donkey2 my oh mentioned the short lived thing.   It was mentioned because of our two, one does look a bit dead in one of the multi trunk's and the other lost at least one of three trunks during heavy wind, and its quite Sheltered, so perhaps not a strong tree or one that weakens with age.   Might be hollow trunks thinking about the one that looks on its last legs.   

    Another thought....they do grow well from lower regions after damage, so much so that from one Angle I have one that looks all bottom and top with little in the middle.  

    Lucky I have some layered cuttings that look great now at least three foot, each with planned destination.
  • I am still toying with the idea of planting some lilac, so thanks for adding to the fact they don't necessarily need plenty of sunshine @llikeplants and they durability @UpNorth . I like the sound of layered cuttings - how long did they take to reach three foot?

  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376
    I am still toying with the idea of planting some lilac, so thanks for adding to the fact they don't necessarily need plenty of sunshine @llikeplants and they durability @UpNorth . I like the sound of layered cuttings - how long did they take to reach three foot?

    I think I had a foot and half when chopping them out, about a year back.  

    I'm sure being in pots will slow their progress, time I had them in the ground!

    Apparently you can get white ones too, but ours are lilac, despite one being in a white garden.
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