Lilacs are one of my favorite flowering trees – ok actually lilacs are a flowering shrub, but they look like trees which wins them a spot in Hug This Tree. I love how lilacs smell, I love how the flowers and leaves look, and I love that you can make all sorts of amazing crafts, sweets, and beauty care goodies with lilacs. In North American lilacs start blooming soon which makes it an excellent time to hug this tree.
Lilac is a popular deciduous shrub that has been cultivated and well-loved for over 300 years – even good ol’ Walt Whitman wrote about them. Currently, according to the International Lilac Site there are over a thousand lilac varieties which allows gardeners ample choices in color, size and shape.
Lilacs can be used as ornamental in a garden, as a living fence, grown in containers, and more. While lilacs favor areas with cooler winters they still cover a wide range of zones [cold zone 2-6 and heat zones 3-8] and are an easy care shrub so long as you plant in well-drained soil and prune when needed. Lilacs come in light and darker violet shades as well as blue, white, red-violet, pink, yellow and dark purple.
GROWING & PRUNING
Almost everyone I’ve ever met plants established lilacs. Growing from seed is really uncommon, although possible. Lilac varieties do vary but all that I’ve ever run across need well-drained soil. If you can’t improve your soil before you plant your lilacs, you’ll have little luck – lilacs really won’t tolerate wet roots. Lilacs like loose, slightly acidic soil but that’s not as important as where you plant; while lilacs can adjust to slightly alkaline soil they won’t flower properly without full sun, so choose a nice sunny spot.
Make sure to prune your lilac shrub at least every few years. When snipping off flowers take care to only snip the old blooms but don’t cut the flower buds at the base (on lilacs buds are easy to spot and form in pairs). When pruning, cut older stems, remove weak growth, and leave some vigorous suckers. It’s best to prune annually to thin out and remove seeds once bloom time has passed; this allows lilacs to conserve energy and improves appearance.
To learn more see tips below…
- Lilac care tips
- Q&A on growing lilacs
- How to transplant lilac bushes
- Lilac pruning and trimming tips
AMAZING LILAC USES
You can use lilacs as wedding cake toppers, in wedding bouquets, or to dress up your wedding ceremony.
Of course you can also place lilacs all over the house in everyday mixed bouquets or even as a single flower in a vase.
You can plant a bush when your baby is born as part of the celebration.
Press lilacs and use them in cards, on gift tags, or as homemade journal cover decor.
Add a handful to your bath water for fragrance, use them in homemade soap or use them to top off a homemade sugar scrub gift – they add a pop of color to the mix.
One of my favorite uses for lilac flowers is to crystallize them and use them as beautiful cupcake decor. Candied lilacs dress up tons of baked goods – cookies, cakes, pies, and actually taste amazingly good (not so for all candied flowers).
You can use lilacs to dress up fresh green salads, add a sprinkle to brown rice, or freeze them in homemade ice pops. NOTE: As with all edible flowers, be sure to use organic, well-washed lilac flowers for recipes.
The following nurseries carry a decent collection of lilacs if you’re looking to buy.
To learn more about all things lilacs visit the International Lilac Society.
What’s your favorite shade of lilac? I like to stick with general light violet, more so than darker lilacs, although light pinks are also nice.