Do lilacs Grow in the Shade? [Planting Guide]

do lilacs grow in the shade

I have been thinking of planting part of my garden with strong enough flowers to survive in full sunlight and partial shade. One flower I thought of is lilac. I wondered if they grow well in the shade since a good percentage of my home is shady.

Below are the findings of the extensive research I did to know more about Lilacs.

So, do lilacs grow in the shade? Yes. Lilacs can grow in partial shade but not in complete shade. They require at least half of the day sun to burst into gorgeous, fragrant bloom – give them too much shed, and they may not bloom. Lilac also grows best in slightly alkaline (6.5 to 7.0), well-drained, moist soil. The best time to plant lilac is in early spring after the ground thaws and in the late fall before the ground freezes.

Although lilac can grow in partial sun, the ideal place to plant lilac is in an area that receives at least half a day of sun. Ensure the shade doesn’t extend towards the day if you are planting them near buildings or trees that might shade them out.

Lilacs are deciduous flowering shrub that loses their foliage in fall and regrow in spring. Typically, their flowers are purple, but they also come in yellow, red, white, blue, and pink.

As beautiful as the flowers are, the fragrance is the most cherished attribute.

How many varieties of lilacs are there?

One sure sign that spring is around is when lilacs burst into beautiful, sweet fragrant bloom. While many people are familiar with the common lilac, there are many choices now than 30 years ago. When looking for a lilac to add to your garden, you’ll find several species to choose from.

Moreover, some species have attributes that might bloom your thinking and make you consider them for your landscape or garden. Here are different varieties that you might want to consider for your garden:

Tree lilacs (S.amuneris)

This variety grows into a 30-foot tree with off-white flowers.

Dwarf Korean lilac (S. palebinina)

These lilacs make an excellent informal hedge and grow 4 feet tall.

• Chinese lilac (S. chinensis)

It’s a cross between common lilacs and Persian lilacs.

• Himalayan lilac (S. Villosa)

This type has rose-like blossoms.

• Persian Lilac (S. persica)

this variety grows 10 feet tall. The flowers are about half the diameter of common lilacs and pale in color.

• Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) –

It’s the most known for most people. The flowers have a strong fragrance and area lilac-colored.

Lilacs Growth requirements

Lilac bushes are among the easiest to plant in your landscape and garden, even if you have poor soil. If you want to plant lilac, here is what you need to observe while growing it.

Light requirements

Lilacs tend to do well in a sunny area, preferably full sun. They can also grow in partial-sun conditions. They require at least half a day of sun to blossom.

On the contrary, if you are planting them near trees or buildings, they might not bloom well due to insufficient sunlight. For better results, ensure that the shade doesn’t extend throughout the day.


Lilacs thrive in fertile, well-drained, moist, and slightly alkaline soil high in organic matter. They are adapted to a range of soil types but prefer organically rich conditions. If you have poor soil, consider adding compost to enrich.


Lilacs don’t require too much water. They may fail to bloom in wet feet. Plant lilacs in either spring or fall and make sure the site drains well using an offshoot or a sucker. Regularly check and water the plants whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. Leaves will begin to droop if the plant is getting too dry.

How to propagate lilac

You can propagate lilac through three means, namely seed, cutting, and using suckers.

Propagating lilac via seed.

Seeds grown from lilac take several years to bloom and differ in appearance from their mother plant. When propagating via seed, make sure to sock the lilac seed in a bowl full of tap water for a day.

Pour a cup of moistened perlite into a sealable storage bag. Chill the lilac seeds for two months to undergo stratification.
Prepare growing containers before removing lilac seeds and sow one seed in each container at a 1/4 –inch depth. Place the containers near a bright window or inside an insulated cold frame.

Watch for the first sprouts in approximately one month. Once roots appear near the drainage holes at the bottom of their original containers, transplant the lilac seedlings into large containers.

Propagating via suckers

This is the easiest method to propagate lilac and get a new plant that blooms much faster than from cuttings.
To propagate lilac from suckers, follow these steps.

  • Use a foot shovel to cut through the sucker. Do it all around the sucker and pop it out of the ground.
  • Soak them
  • Pot the lilac suckers.

Propagating through cuttings

Propagating lilac from cuttings is somehow tricky but not impossible. Follow these steps to propagate lilac through cuttings.

  • Take cuttings of lilac from new growth in early summer or early spring.
  • Take cuttings in the morning when the weather is cool, and the plant is well hydrated. Cut 4 to 6-inch lengths of tender new growth, strip the bottom leaves from the cuttings leaving two to three leaves at the top.
  • Fill a pot with potting soil, sand, and perlite. Moisten the mixture then make a planting hole using your fingers or a stick.
  • Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone and plant it in the hole, then pat the potting mix lightly around the base of the cutting for it to stand up straight.
  • Water the cuttings daily as you watch for the cutting to root in one to two months.
  • Allow the lilacs to mature until the roots are well established, then move them out to their permanent outdoor location.

How to harvest lilacs

  • Lilacs create a perfect image of spring. If you want to harvest lilac for culinary purposes, below are tips you should focus on.
  • • Harvest lilac early morning or after sunset when the leaves and flowers are still fresh and filled with moisture.
  • • Harvest lilac heads with newly opened blossoms, not those lilac heads filled with wilted, brown blooms.
  • • Harvest dry flowers, not after a rain shower.
  • • Choose plants from an area not exposed to car emissions.

Insect and Disease problems

  • Lilac is exposed to the following pests and diseases, but you can reduce these pests and diseases with proper gardening care.
  • • Blights
  • • Scale
  • • Bacterial blights
  • • Canker
  • • Borers

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When can I plant a lilac bush?
The best season for planting lilac is during spring and fall. Planting in fall means less work as autumn rain provides irrigation. If you plant in spring, wait until winter’s worst have passed.

2. Are the roots of lilac invasive?
Lilac plants expand and are difficult to remove from your backyard. The shrubs do send up many suckers into a new plant.

3. How can I grow lilacs in a hot climate?
Most lilac species require a long period of winter chill to flower well. Select a lilac variety that accepts mild winters and is tolerant to heat.
4. Why isn’t my lilac blooming?
Probably, your lilac might fail to blooms because of hard pruning, late pruning, lack of sunlight, pest and diseases, and applying too much nitrogen fertilizer. If your plant is old, good pruning will make it produce young and more productive wood.

5. How can I prune a lilac bush?
Use clippers and not scissors to cut flowers close to the stem to encourage another round of blooms. Remove the entire stems, and don’t leave the overgrown stem tips.

6. How can I fertilize lilacs?
Lilacs don’t require many nutrients. Feeding plants with nutrients makes them produce lush foliage and make it healthy. Apply it in spring, when the lilac canes wake up from their winter sleep.

7. How can I transplant lilac shrubs?
Only transplant when there is need because plants can experience plant shock if moved around frequently. Take many roots as possible to the new location to transplant successfully.

The best time to transplant is during fall and spring. Transplanted plants need adequate water until their roots are re-established.

Bottom line

Who doesn’t love lilacs? Lilacs create a perfect image of spring, best plants to grow in your garden, and suitable both as specimen plants or put together in groups. Plant them in areas of the garden where other plants offer interest outside of lilacs blooming season. (From April to May). I tried growing lilacs under partial shade, and they grew well. If you are looking to put part of your garden into use, then opt for lilac. Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined above to ensure that lilac plants do not die. With Christmas around the corner, cut lilacs, make a beautiful gift for your loved ones, or add to your brunch table during your family celebration.


I love nature and fresh food from the garden. That's why I started this gardening journey and decided to share my experience with the world. So far it has been an amazing journey. I hope you will enjoy reading my gardening journal and never be the same again!

Recent Posts