How to Propagate Lilac Bush

Updated on October 15, 2018
modern housewife profile image

Sarah is a homemaker and stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing about motherhood, healthy living, and all things home and garden.

Lilacs have long been known and loved for their distinctive, sweet spring fragrance and beautiful pink, white or purple spring flowers They are fantastic to use for screening around fences and shrub borders, and best of all, they are extremely easy to propagate.

If you are looking to add some shrubs to your landscape but money is an issue, consider taking some lilac root cuttings to grow your own lilac shrubs. They are fast growing, very hardy and propagating them is almost fail proof.

Process Slide Show

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Find a healthy parent lilac bush with new shootsCarefully dig around new shoots to expose roots and remove shoots Check to make sure that cuttings have at least 1 inch of root.Plant new shoots in pots or at new site.This is a new lilac bush I planted last fall.  Now, in early spring it already looks like a little bush!
Find a healthy parent lilac bush with new shoots
Find a healthy parent lilac bush with new shoots
Carefully dig around new shoots to expose roots and remove shoots
Carefully dig around new shoots to expose roots and remove shoots
Check to make sure that cuttings have at least 1 inch of root.
Check to make sure that cuttings have at least 1 inch of root.
Plant new shoots in pots or at new site.
Plant new shoots in pots or at new site.
This is a new lilac bush I planted last fall.  Now, in early spring it already looks like a little bush!
This is a new lilac bush I planted last fall. Now, in early spring it already looks like a little bush!

What You Need

  • Pruning sheers or some other kind of garden cutting tool
  • Shovel or hand trowel.
  • Water
  • gardening gloves

Taking the Cuttings

The best time to take Suckers from a Lilac is in the Spring or fall (I have successfully done both) Look around the base of the Lilac bush for the fresh, young shoots coming out of the ground. Try to use shoots that are no larger than 1 foot tall, because the larger the shoot, the more roots you need to take to be successful.

Remove the soil around the shoot until you can see the roots and cut the shoot away from the parent plant, using pruning shears or a large shovel. Make sure that you have a few inches of root attached to the new shoot. Plant 3-4 shoots together either in a 1-quart pot or you plant them right in the ground wherever you want the new shrub to be. If you want, you can add a little rooting hormone to the roots, but this is not necessary. Plant the shoots at the same depth that they were planted while attached to the parent plant. Keep the new plant well watered until it becomes established.

I have done this twice and it really is extremely easy. At first, the new plants may not look like they are doing well, but that is just because all of the plants energy is going to the roots system. Once the roots get going again, your plant will take off. Remember that the more root you take with the shoot, the better healthier the plant will be.

Planting the New Lilac Bushes

Preparing the site for your new lilac bush correctly is well worth the added effort as your new bush will become an established, healthy plant much faster. To start, dig a hole about 12 inches deep and about 12 inches in diameter. Water hole well and add about 3 inches of composted manure, which can be purchased at any lawn and garden store for under $2.00 a bag. Mix the composted manure into the existing soil and fill the hole back up with dirt. Use a hand trowel to plant the cuttings in their new home.

The Tools I Use

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I can't tell you how much I LOVE this transplanter.  It's seriously the best trowel I've ever owned.  It's made of reinforced stainless steel and full tanged so it's super strongI highly recommend these high quality shears! I use them for pruning my shrubs and small trees and for taking root cuttings.
Source
I can't tell you how much I LOVE this transplanter.  It's seriously the best trowel I've ever owned.  It's made of reinforced stainless steel and full tanged so it's super strong
I can't tell you how much I LOVE this transplanter. It's seriously the best trowel I've ever owned. It's made of reinforced stainless steel and full tanged so it's super strong | Source
I highly recommend these high quality shears! I use them for pruning my shrubs and small trees and for taking root cuttings.
I highly recommend these high quality shears! I use them for pruning my shrubs and small trees and for taking root cuttings. | Source

What To Look For in Gardening Tools

When choosing gardening tools, the most important features are strength and durability. Tools made from reinforced stainless steel, will resist corrosion and will be less likely to bend or break when working in heavy soils or thick plant roots.

Make sure your tools are full tanged or the handle make break off with use (that happened to my husband with a trowel he purchased and used one time). They should feel heavy in your hand and have a comfortable grip.

High quality tools may cost a little more up front, but are worth it in the end because they will last much longer and you'll enjoy using them so much more because you wont have to stop to bend them back into shape between digs! I use the set above from Pampered Chef. I've found them to be very durable--In fact, even my husband loves them--and are hands down, the best gardening tools I've ever used.

I you love the Pampered Chef gardening tools I've shown you, you can purchase them from the source links below the photos.

**UPDATE**

This is the second spring since I transplanted this lilac bush. It is taking off and becoming tall and bushy!

Last fall I got a very tall cutting with very little root from a family member. I really didn't think it would live, but it made it through the winter and is sending up shoots. Lilacs really are fail proof!

© 2010 Sarah

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Gardener on the "Cheap" 

      15 months ago

      Great suggestions! Thank you! I am experimenting with some "suckers" that popped up this spring. I have easily 9 good starts and I can't wait to gift them to friends and family! P.S. I'm trying one in a jar of water on my window sill. Something really gratifying about watching the little roots grow!

    • profile image

      Stephanie Rummell 

      15 months ago

      I've had my lilac bush now for 3 years,every year I think "this is the year it's gunna bloom" can't wait to stand at my kitchen sink and smell them! But every year it's just new leaves growing...this bush is almost 3 to 4 feet high, but hasn't bloomed, NOT ONCE! Open for suggestions, !!!

    • profile image

      Debi 

      20 months ago

      I like the article, thanks. However, I am looking at the photo at the bottom of your article listed as "update" and, maybe I am mistaken, but those are peonies spouting up, not lilacs.

    • profile image

      Constance Zollo 

      3 years ago

      Ive always brought my cuttings inside to start roots. I place them in a big vase and I change the water every few days. The clippings begin to root in 2-3 weeks. Makes for a beautiful vase. I occasionally add a flower or two to brighten up the vase.

    • profile image

      Tracy 

      3 years ago

      Thanks so much for your help! I'll give it a whirl & do my best! :-)

    • modern housewife profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah 

      3 years ago from Indiana

      I have never propagated a lilac from seed. I suppose it must be possible, but taking cuttings is so simple and reliable that I have never thought to try it.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Great! I've always wondered about this! What about from the seeds?

      Thanks!

      Ben

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Good to know. I just love lilacs. My friend has one bush,maybe she will let me try this in the fall. Thanks!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      Am going to try this with a little Miss Kim. Thanks for the great tips. Wish me luck!

    • modern housewife profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah 

      3 years ago from Indiana

      Tracy, go for it. If you had the option to wait until fall that would be ideal, but you can absolutely transplant now. Take extra cuttings in case you do lose a few.

      As long as your starts have plenty of roots and you keep them well watered, they should be fine.

      Good luck and congrats!

    • profile image

      Tracy 

      3 years ago

      Since it's the first week of June, & I'm in East TN, would this be a bad time to propagate lilacs? We have a massive amount in our yard at our old house we're selling. I'd hate to miss the opportunity to get some for free to place at our new home. Thanks!

    • modern housewife profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah 

      4 years ago from Indiana

      Sounds like you have had some trouble yourself. I know how frustrating that can be. I have taken cuttings from different lilacs 7 or 8 times and have never had problem. Perhaps you took the cutting during the wrong time of year ( early spring or late fall is best, although I have successfully taken cuttings in august) or didn't get enough root on the cutting (for best results you want several inches). Once you have taken the cuttings you need to keep them very well watered until they get re-established. other than that I really can't think of a reason the cutting wouldn't have made it. Lilacs fare well in partial shade or sun and are really hardy plants. Luckily, taking cuttings from lilacs doesn't hurt the plant and is completely free so you could keep trying until you get it figured out if you wanted to. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Carol 

      4 years ago

      Lilacs are not always all that easy to propagate. There is a high failure rate no matter which method you use - collected seeds, stem cuttings, or root cuttings.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Have never tried this but am going to now--although it's not the best time of year--to start a few plants for a friend with a new house. Thanks for the information! Very useful.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 

      8 years ago

      Another useful hub. Would love to read more gardening hubs.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)