“Now that lilacs are in bloom, she has a bowl of lilacs in her room.” – T.S. Eliot
It wouldn’t be springtime without the lovely aroma of newly blossoming lilacs wafting through the air. When I was growing up, my mother raved about this delicate, dreamlike plant – but we never were able to cultivate any at home. Instead, we’d go to local flower shops and arboretums, (or my grandma’s house) to take in the wonder of the lilacs. If you’re lucky enough to have lilacs growing near where you live, or if you have a large enough yard to grow a bush or two in, Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum has some wonderful tips to help you care for them.
Here’s some things you should know about lilacs and how to plant and care for them if you’re just starting out:
- Lilacs grow best in full sun and well-drained soil – if you plan on planting one in your yard (or even just a small patch of soil) make sure to do it where there is bountiful sunlight.
- If you’re new to planting lilacs, you’ve got to prepare for the long term. According to the experts at Harvard, lilac shrubs can take up to four years to establish themselves in a new site, so it’s important to remain patient. Once established, lilacs have been known to live for centuries.
- To ensure abundant flowering, cut off all dead blossoms each year, and be sure to prune with care. Similarly, be sure to remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches, to ensure the future health of the shrub.
- Lilacs need a lot of water to thrive. Despite being very resilient plants, lilacs require at least an inch of water a week, so be sure to provide them with a good watering if mother nature doesn’t beat you to it.
I’m going to take a walk in search of some lilacs right now, and if all else fails, I’ll daydream about the gorgeous lilac bushes I used to bury my face in at grandma’s house.
For more information about lilac care, visit www.arboretum.harvard.edu.