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Watering Lilacs

Published 12-11-2020

Lilac plants are a staple flowering shrub for a classic flower garden, landscape area, or in a decorative pot. These fragrant shrubs can be grown in zones 3 through 8 and are very easy to care for. To obtain the best blooms, lilacs require at least 6 hours of full sun. Lilacs thrive when watered regularly after first planting, during heavy growth periods (spring time), and extended dry spells. Once established, lilacs are fairly drought tolerant.

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Watering your lilac plant is recommended once every 10 to 14 days from from spring until blooming ends. Lilacs respond best to deep, infrequent watering. Make sure that your planting area or container drains well. These plants do not like wet feet and will not bloom if over watered. Too much water can diminish the oxygen in the soil by filling in air pockets with water, which chokes the roots of the lilac. Witling of the plant is the first sign that the lilac is overwatered.

How To Tell If Lilacs Need Watered

A newly planted lilac shrub can be watered as needed to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Water your plant whenever the top inch of the soil is dry (once or twice a week). Young plants can get drought stress, so avoid dry soil during this time. Once established, watering once every 10-14 days is recommended. Too much water can result in wilted, pale, or yellowing leaves.

Established shrubs can tolerate short periods of drought like conditions without damage. Longer periods of dry conditions can cause the leaves and the stems of the lilac to wilt. Under these circumstances, give your shrub 1 to 2 inches of water weekly to avoid wilting.

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How Often To Water Lilacs

Freshly planted lilac shrubs need to be checked often. Water whenever the top inch of the soil becomes dry, usually once or twice a week. Water slowly to ensure that the plant is getting a good drink. Regular watering during the first year of growth is recommended.

Once the lilac is established, occasional watering once every 10-14 days is best. Too much water can drown the plant. Careful not to underwater the shrub, as lilacs will not thrive in dry soil. It’s as easy as paying attention to the soil to determine if the plant needs to be watered.

If your lilac plant is growing in a container, keep the soil fairly moist. Newly planted shrubs should be watered 2-3 times per week for the first month. After the first month, water your plant deeply once a week. Moisten the soil to a 12 inch depth, usually 2 inches of water per plant. Do not overwater your lilac.

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Best Time To Water Lilacs

Lilac shrubs will require the most watering during the peak blooming time, which is spring time. During the summer months, if your area receives an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, lilac plants will be fine. Less than an inch of rain will require additional watering. In extremely dry conditions, give your shrub a good slow soaking with a trickling water hose. Lilacs can withstand winter conditions better than most plants. If it is a dry winter in your area, occasional watering can benefit the roots. Watering around the base of the plant actually keeps the roots warmer than the dry soil.

How to Water Lilacs

Step 1 - Mulch around the base of your lilac plant.
Mulch helps the soil from drying out.

Step 2 - Water at the base of the plant.
Water the base of the plant and allow the soil to dry out again before the next watering.

Step 3 - Avoid watering during flowering.
Overhead watering during peak blooming time can cause your blooms to decline quickly.

Step 4 - Water once every 10-14 days.
Moisten soil to a 12 inch depth from spring until blooming ends. Lilacs thrive best with deep, infrequent watering.

Step 5 - Reduce watering after spring flowering.
Lilacs need water if the leaves begin to wilt or when the weather is extremely dry.

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Lilac Watering Tips

  • Less is more- water lilacs every 10-14 days
  • Water when the soil is dry
  • Water more during peak blooming (spring)
  • Do not overwater
  • Water at the base of the plant
  • Water the plants slowly