How to Feed Lilac Bushes


According to The Gardener's Network, lilacs are best planted on hillsides or in slightly elevated areas where the water drains well and does not puddle around the shrubs. Feeding lilac bushes involves less than 30 minutes of your time twice a year. With over 1,000 varieties to choose from, there is a type and color for every preference. These hardy shrubs will tolerate any soil from clay to sand. Too much mulch will hamper new shoots that will become sturdy branches as the shrub grows, providing more opportunities for fragrant blooms.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-13-10 fertilizer
  • Water gauge
  • 20- to 24-oz. scoop
  • Compost
  • Humus
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Garden hose
  • Mix 20 to 24 oz. of 10-13-10 common garden fertilizer with 2 lbs. of compost and 2 lbs. of humus. Spread the mixture around the base of the bush and water thoroughly. Spread a light layer of mulch, about 2 inches, to prevent weeds and loss of moisture.

  • Fertilize new additions of lilac bushes the day you plant them by digging a hole twice the size of the root ball. Mix one scoop of fertilizer, 1 lb. compost and 1 lb. of humus. Add the mixture to the hole and water thoroughly.

  • Place the lilac bush in the center of the hole and cover with soil. Pack the soil loosely around the bush and add 2 inches of mulch. Dig a shallow trench, if necessary, to drain excess rain water.

  • Feed your lilac bush at the beginning of every spring season and again after the blossoms have ceased and dried. Prune the branches back to the first set of leaves after the second feeding to promote more blossoms the following spring.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to The Arnold Arboretum, lilacs grown in partial shade will not flower well.
  • Lilacs should receive an inch of water every week, whether from rain or from you.
  • For specific advice on pest identification, control methods, and altering the soil's pH, call the Plant Information Hotline: 617-384-5235.
  • The second number on the bag of fertilizer is the number for phosphorus, which should be the highest number on the bag. Phosphorus promotes blooms.
  • Too much nitrogen in the soil will yield few blooms according to The Gardener's Network.

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  • Photo Credit mauve lilac image by haemengine from lilac image by John Keith from White lilac growing in bush in the garden image by inconet from family and lilac image by Pavel Losevsky from
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