Lilacs love Garden Pearls®

By Gudrun Mahrt

You could make the connection of love and lilacs – if you were a romantic person drawn to intoxicating smells, rare purple colors, and abundant, really generous flowers. Lilacs, Syringa vulgaris have a scent that follows you through the spring garden. In my Pacific Northwest region, they bloom from late April to the middle of June depending on the variety.

Originally, lilacs came from Asia and southern Europe with subsets of 20 or more species. They are all deciduous shrubs and small trees. Bred for their color and scent, there are many to choose from: spicy scented French hybrids, the large Japanese and Persian lilacs, Dwarf Korean willowy bushes, Chinese and Himalayan specialties, and Canadian troopers of the cold winter. There are 2,000 named cultivars! And they have two things in common – most lilacs are at home with freezing winter temperatures, and they are at home where the soil is alkaline (where the pH 7+) which brings out the best of flower shows.

Now you know why lilacs love Garden Pearls® Garden Lime!

Garden Pearls Lime sweetens acid soils to make soil more alkaline. Acid soils are those with a pH below 7. Most plants in our gardens need a soil pH between 6 and 7.  Low pH soils are those below pH 6, and they harbor a host of problems that lilacs cannot handle:  Aluminum toxicity, low calcium, low magnesium, phosphorous deficiency, higher heavy metals and slow decomposition of organic material.  Remember break-down of organic material is necessary for good soil fertility with a rich microbial life. Use Garden Pearls® Lime to fix all these problems.

Adding Garden Pearls Lime is the most effective way to make a lilac feel at home in your garden.

Planting & Growing Tips

  • Plant in early spring into well drained soil
  • Best grown in minimum of six hours of full sun, some tolerate semi-shade
  • Hardy in zones 3-7
  • Usually not grafted; they grow on their own roots
  • Depending on the variety, space 4 to 6 feet apart with plenty of room to spread out and grow into a nice bush
  • A young, new lilac takes about 2-3 years to get established
  • Water regularly after planting and during dry, hot summers
  • Add two to four handful of Garden Pearls® Lime into the planting hole
  • Add compost, composted manure, and mulch often
  • Every year add four handful of Garden Pearls Lime around your Lilac

If you’d like to grow lilacs in containers, choose small varieties such as Dwarf Korean Lilacs Syringa Pubescens, Chinese Syringa Chinensis or others with names like Minuet, Pixie, Munchkin, Sweetie, or Miss. You get the idea. Be sure to provide drip irrigation or water often to prevent roots from drying out.

If your old lilacs won’t bloom, rejuvenate by removing 1/3 of oldest stems to ground level, allow for sufficient sunlight. Avoid high nitrogen but feed with an organic flower fertilizer or a fertilizer with higher phosphorous levels than nitrogen. Never forget Garden Pearls® Lime, it helps your lilacs bloom. 

To extend your flowering possibilities, consider underplanting lilac trees or bushes with Helleborus, Cyclamen, Daphne, Iris, Corydalis, Anemone, Bleeding Heart, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Artemesia and many others that also prefer alkaline soils. Or try combining your lilac with scented peonies for an explosion of color and fragrance that might even impress your neighbors.

You see, as John Lennon famously said: “The love you take equals the love you make”. Give your lilacs the love they deserve, treat them to Garden Pearls® Lime.