Lilacs are stunning, cold-weather blooms that come in all shades of purple, some are white and of course, lilac in colour.
Asides from being easy on the eyes, they have a deep, lovely scent that makes you want to keep sniffing them over and over again.
Lilacs are quite easy to grow, as long as all the right conditions such as water and enough sunlight are provided for them. Do lilacs need full sun?
Read on to find out!
In this piece, we will give detailed insight into the world of lilacs, from how to grow them, to how to care for them and most especially the amount of sun they need to blossom to their full capacity.
Botanical Name Syringa spp.
Plant Type Trees, Shrubs, and Vine
Soil pH Neutral to Slightly
Bloom Time Spring, Summer
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple,
Red, White, Yellow
Hardiness Zone 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Special Features Attracts butterflies
When spring comes each year, it brings with it clusters of purple, dainty lilacs. Depending on where you live, and the varieties of lilacs you choose, lilacs can provide blooms from April to June yearly.
Lilacs readily spread through suckers.
If you want to propagate the flowers, simply dig around a new shoot and cut it from the main plant while taking care not to damage its roots.
You can now replant it in a new spot, and keep it well-watered until its roots start sprouting. But if you don’t want your lilac to spread, just trim off any suckers to keep it under control.
You can also decide to buy container-grown lilacs from the local nursery or order them online. Get recommendations on the variety to choose from before buying.
How to Choose Lilacs
There are over a hundred species of lilacs. That’s plenty for you to choose from! A few are listed here:
- Agincourt Beauty
- Angel White
- Beauty of Moscow
- Be Right Back
- California Rose
- Charles Joly
- Common Purple
- Common White
- Dwarf Korean
- Ivory Silk
- James Macfarlane
- Japanese Tree Lilac
- Lavender Lady
- Ludwig Spaeth
- Miss Canada
- Miss Kim
To choose the right lilac breed, consider where you live. Is it a hot or cool zone?
Lilacs generally do better in cold weather but there are some types that still thrive in heat so choose wisely. “California Rose”, “Lavender Lady” and “Angel White” are better for warmer locations.
How Many Hours of Sun Do Lilacs Need?
Lilacs are plants that prefer full sun and should be planted in an area where they will receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Ironically, lilacs grow best after a cold winter, but during the growing season, they love to soak up the sun’s rays.
Although they need full sun, lilacs can be harmed by overexposure often manifested as curly, brown leaves and dried flowers. If they are always in the shade, the purple petals may not open and can get attacked by fungal diseases.
If lilacs can get up to 8 hours of full sun every day, that will be wonderful because lilacs need plenty of direct light to thrive to the max.
Ensure you plant your lilac bush where you can be sure that all sides of the plant will receive sun at some point during the day.
Do lilacs need full sun? Yes, full sun exposure for 6 to 8 hours gives your lilacs a healthy and lush appearance, and it also encourages your plants to produce many beautiful flowers.
Can Lilacs Grow in Indirect Sunlight?
Lilacs can grow in indirect sunlight, but the flowers on these plants are not to be compared with the ones of lilacs planted in full sun. It is always best to ensure they get sunshine for a minimum of 6 hours a day.
Planting them in indirect sunlight will result in plants that have too many leaves and few or no flowers. The few flowers that manage to grow may even lack the characteristic scent that makes them so appreciated.
If it is not possible to plant them where they can receive full sun for the specified amount of time, at least plant them where they can get indirect sun for the whole day.
Lilacs should not get only indirect sun because it is not the best for them and it will only leave your plants looking bushy and lacking flowers.
Can Lilacs Grow in Shade?
Lilac bushes can grow in the shade but it is not the best idea. Lilacs are flowers that benefit a lot from the full sun so when they are deprived of sun, they don’t take it very well.
First of all, the flower buds may not open and the bush will grow wild. This simply means that they start to grow in odd directions and become leggy as they go in search of more sunlight.
All this results in bushes with distorted shapes which have few or no blooms. This is probably the opposite of the results seen when lilacs are given the proper amount of sun they need.
Secondly, fungal diseases or mould damage can occur if lilacs are kept in shade continually since the sun is a natural enemy of these. All lilac varieties are susceptible to powdery mildew in the shade so caution should be exercised.
In addition, there is also a possibility that your lilac flowers will lose their scent when they don’t get enough sun so do your best not to plant your lilacs in shady areas of your garden or in areas that don’t get full sun.
After all, fragrant flowers are one of the main reasons to plant lilacs in your garden.
If you want luscious, sweet-smelling lilac blooms, avoid planting them in shade.
What Happens if Lilacs Don’t Get Enough Sun?
Do lilacs need full sun? For the best results, it is suggested that you plant your lilacs where they will receive sun for at least 6 hours every day.
Lilacs that don’t get enough sun will not bloom in addition to other problems. You should avoid causing harm to these beauties by providing them with the best care.
Although the bushes can survive without full sun, they may end up not producing the flowers that you’ve been waiting for.
Lilacs that are grown in shade all the time will produce flowers that open in an unusual pattern. Even if your lilac bushes produce buds, those buds are unlikely to open.
You may also notice that some stems bear flowers that open only halfway, making for a rather odd-looking plant. This is because lilacs are made up of many small flowers, and if some open and others don’t, they won’t have the pretty look they’re known for.
Can Lilacs Get Too Much Sun?
Most flowers suffer when they are exposed to too much sun and lilacs are no exception. This is especially true if you live in a very hot climate where temperatures rise to soar heights.
The most obvious signs of damage from excessive sun are dark brown edges on the leaves and yellowing of the flowers. Lilacs can get sunburned when left in the heat.
Signs that your lilac is sunburnt include:
changing from purple or white colour to yellow, drying of flowers and black or brown spots on leaves.
If lilac petals feel dry or look wilted, that’s a sign they’re getting too much sun, even if their colour is still alright. If you notice these symptoms, provide a cover in the afternoon and give your plants some more water. They should recover in a few days if the damage wasn’t severe.
How Much Sun Do Lilacs Require?
When looking for a place to plant lilacs, you need to put a few things into consideration:
1. Lilacs require 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
2. When growing lilacs in indirect light, they need all-day sun for optimal growth.
3. Without enough sun, lilacs will not produce flowers and if they do, the flowers will open abnormally. Lilacs in shade are also at risk for plant diseases.
4. In extremely high temperatures, the sun can scorch lilacs. Cover burnt lilacs with a row cover in the evenings to give them a better chance to recover.
If you plant lilacs in an area where all sides of the plant receive sun evenly, you’ll be amazed at how many scented blooms they produce and you won’t be worried about fungus.
Tips for the maintenance of lilacs
Lilacs generally require little care and maintenance but make sure the following factors are available for them:
1. Good soil
3. Temperature and humidity
Lilacs prefer soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. It should also have nutrients and drain well whenever you water them.
Lilac grew best in USDA zones 3 to 7. Plant your lilac in an area that receives at least six hours of full sun each day.
Lilacs will grow in some shade but likely won’t produce as many flowers.
Temperature and Humidity
Lilacs need a moderate to cool temperature in the summers, about 75° F, and can handle freezing temperatures during the winter.
They do not do well in areas with high humidity.
Fertilize in early spring with a fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium but make sure it is necessary to do so first.
An excess of nitrogen can harm the plant.
Prune lilacs in spring, immediately after they bloom. If you prune later, you may be cutting off healthy parts.
Prune the oldest canes and remove dead and diseased parts. Cut back tall canes to eye height.
It must be understood that excess pruning results in the loss of flowers for one to three years. When you also remove faded flowers, your lilacs can bloom even more next spring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are lilacs easy to care for?
Lilacs are very easy to maintain. You should prune them every year, fertilize and provide water during dry weather.
How fast do lilacs grow?
Lilacs have an average growth rate, reaching one or two feet each year.
What’s the difference between a lilac bush and a lilac tree?
There’s no difference between the two. You can call a lilac bush a lilac tree. You can also say lilac shrub.
Are coffee grounds good for lilacs?
Coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen for them but they must be used in moderation.
What is the best fertilizer for lilacs?
Bone meal is very good for lilacs because it makes the soil more alkaline.
Do lilacs need a lot of water?
Lilacs respond best to deep watering, once in a while.
How much space do lilacs need?
Lilac bushes need space of at least seven to eight feet wide.
To summarize, lilacs can grow in indirect sunlight, but the blooms will be dull in appearance and can even lose their sweet fragrance. Plant them where indirect light can reach them from morning to evening when full sun is not possible.
Lilac bushes can grow in the shade although not likely to produce as many flowers as those planted where they can get full sun. A lilac bush affected by sin overexposure needs shade from the afternoon heat to grow new, green leaves and be restored to health.
In very hot weather, make sure to water your plant at least once a week. There are several harmful diseases and parasites that affect lilacs.
The most common are bacterial rot, powdery mildew, leaf miner and Spanish fly. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers and compacted soil that drains poorly.