Lilacs are a popular spring-blooming shrub known for their beautiful clusters of fragrant flowers. Gardeners look forward to the yearly bloom of lilacs, but just how often do they flower? Let’s take a closer look at the blooming habits of lilacs.
The Lilac Blooming Season
Lilacs typically bloom once a year in spring or early summer. The exact timing depends on the climate and variety. In colder climates, lilacs generally bloom in late May or early June. In warmer zones, they may start blooming as early as March or April.
Here are some general guidelines for when lilacs bloom:
|USDA Hardiness Zone
|Late May to mid June
|Mid to late May
|Early to mid May
|March to April
The bloom period lasts around 7-10 days on average, sometimes up to 2 weeks for certain varieties. Once the initial flush of bloom is over, lilacs will not rebloom again until the following spring.
What Triggers Lilac Blooming
Lilacs are triggered to bloom based on a combination of factors:
– Photoperiod (day length): Lilacs bloom in response to increasing day lengths in spring.
– Chilling hours: Lilacs require exposure to a certain number of chilling hours (temperatures below 45°F/7°C) to bloom properly. This cold exposure helps regulate bud formation and flowering.
– Warm temperatures: Warmer spring temperatures initiate bud swelling and bloom.
– Plant maturity: Most lilacs take 2-3 years after planting to begin blooming. Older, mature plants bloom more prolifically than younger plants.
The specific bloom time can vary slightly year to year depending on weather patterns, but in general lilacs are reliable spring bloomers.
Getting Lilacs to Bloom More Than Once
While lilacs are primarily a spring-blooming shrub, it is possible to get them to rebloom later in the season under certain conditions:
– Pruning: Pruning lilacs immediately after the spring bloom removes spent blossoms and encourages new growth that may rebloom. However, pruning does not always guarantee a second bloom.
– Fertilizing: Applying a balanced fertilizer or compost in early spring gives plants extra energy that may translate to repeat blooming. Avoid high-nitrogen formulas that favor leafy growth over flowers.
– Deadheading: Regularly removing faded blossoms keeps plants from forming seed pods and directs energy back into flowering.
– Root pruning: This shocks lilacs by severing some feeder roots, stressing the plant into pushing out a second flush of bloom. However, this may have negative long-term impacts on plant health.
– Warm climate: Lilacs have a better chance of reblooming in warmer climates like Zones 7-9. The extended growing season encourages repeat flowering.
With diligent care, you may see scattered reblooming in late summer or fall. However, the spring show is still the peak bloom time for lilacs. Getting a prolific second bloom can be difficult to achieve.
Bloom Times of Popular Lilac Varieties
There are over 1200 species and cultivars of lilacs available. Here are bloom times for a few of the most popular varieties:
|Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
|Mid to late spring
|Dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri)
|Early to mid spring
|Early flowering Preston lilac (Syringa x prestoniae)
|Spring and reblooms until frost
|Miss Kim lilac (Syringa patula)
|Early to mid spring
|Palibin lilac (Syringa meyeri)
|Early to mid spring
|Pocahontas lilac (Syringa x hyacinthiflora)
|Mid to late spring
As you can see, bloom times can vary by a few weeks depending on the variety. Early bloomers like Bloomerang and Preston lilacs flower first, while late season bloomers like common lilac and Pocahontas finish the season.
Factors that Influence Lilac Blooming
In addition to climate and variety, there are some other factors that can affect lilac flowering:
– Plant age: Younger lilac shrubs often won’t bloom for the first 2-3 years after planting. Flowering increases as plants mature.
– Pruning: Regular pruning improves flowering, while neglecting to prune may reduce blooms. Time pruning for immediately after flowering.
– Sun exposure: Lilacs need full sun (at least 6 hours daily) to produce the most flowers. Too much shade will decrease blooms.
– Soil: Well-draining, fertile soil keeps lilacs vigorous for best flowering. Poor drainage or compacted soil causes issues.
– Plant health: Stressed, damaged, or diseased lilacs may not bloom well. Ensure plants are kept healthy with proper care.
– Weather extremes: An unusual cold snap or late frost may damage flower buds and decrease the spring bloom. Extreme heat also impacts flowering.
By providing optimal growing conditions for your lilacs, you can ensure the largest bloom each spring. Avoid stress and unhealthy environments for prolific flowering.
Tips for an Abundant Lilac Bloom
Here are some tips to maximize the bloom on your lilac shrubs each spring:
– Select an appropriate variety for your region so it gets the required chilling hours.
– Plant in full sun in well-draining soil enriched with compost or manure.
– Prune each spring after flowering by removing old, dead wood and thinning overcrowded branches.
– Water regularly the first 2 years after planting to establish an extensive root system.
– Apply a balanced fertilizer or compost in early spring when buds are swelling.
– Remove faded blossoms throughout the bloom period to encourage more flower formation.
– Cover the shrub with burlap or frost cloth if a late cold snap occurs after buds open.
– Monitor for common pests and diseases like powdery mildew. Treat any issues promptly.
– Be patient – remember that lilacs don’t reach their full flowering potential until around 6 years old.
So how many times do lilacs bloom each year? The answer is once, for a glorious display lasting around 2 weeks, typically in spring or early summer. With some coaxing, you may get scattered reblooming, but the main bloom will always be in spring. By providing the right care and growing conditions, you can ensure your lilac shrubs flower as prolifically as possible to enjoy their lovely blooms and fragrance each season.