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How To Propagate Lilacs: Ultimate Guide

Are you worrying about managing healthy pruned branches of Lilac? Or, do you want to confine the magnificent lilac blooms within a limited plant size?  

Propagating your Lilac is a standard answer to both of your needs. 

Generally, there are many methods of propagating Lilacs, such as propagation through cuttings (softwood and hardwood), shoot, layering, seeds, and grafting. It would be best if you propagated Lilacs in spring or early summer.

Propagation through stem cuttings is an easy and relatively successful method.

If you haven’t owned Lilac, don’t let your garden miss out on this beautiful plant.

Instead, begin by populating Lilac through seeds or borrowing its shoots or stems from those who own it.

As propagating Lilac is nothing complicated, read on to learn how you can perform it. 

Reasons to Propagate Lilacs

Gardeners grow Lilacs for pleasant spring fragrance and beautiful multicolored flowers. Besides, Lilacs serve as screening around fences and borders of shrubs. 

Many propagate Lilacs to increase the number of cultivated plants and to produce an attractive plant from an aged plant. 

The cuttings from the Lilac bushes need late spring or early summer to propagate successfully.

Besides, there are other reasons people consider propagating Lilacs.

  • Propagation through cutting increases the concentration of blooms within a Lilac bush at its limited size. 
  • Since Lilac is a fast-growing plant, propagation through stem cuttings helps manage an overgrowing Lilac.
  • It is cheaper to propagate a plant instead of buying new plants.
  • Cutting and propagating a healthy part prevents further loss or damage if your plant is pest infested. 
  • Propagation through grafting makes Lilac resistant to diseases and improves its blooming capacity.

Propagation Of Lilacs- Complete Guide

Though professionals propagate lilacs, you may have to do it alone when the varieties you want are not obtainable in nurseries.

It is excellent to propagate Lilacs through shoots, softwood cuttings, or layering should be done in spring or early summer.

The soil is moist during the spring, which helps increase the chances of rooting of propagated parts.

But before you begin propagating, you need to collect the following pieces of equipment. 

Pruning shearTo cut off the part
Isopropyl alcoholTo sterilize the cutting tool
Gardener glovesTo keep the hands dry and avoid blisters
ShovelTo dig the soil
ContainerTo place the propagated parts
SoilGrowth platform for the plant

If you are on standby with all the necessary tools, be familiar with some methods of propagating Lilacs. 

1. Propagation via Stem Cutting 

If you wish to add shrubs to your landscape but do not have enough money, you can perform propagation through stem cuttings. The cuttings grow fast, and it is almost fail-proof.

Lilacs can have softwood cutting and hardwood cutting which may take different procedures to propagate the plant.

Softwood Cutting

You can make fresh softwood cuttings and propagate them during spring when the stem is new.

Take a softwood cutting when the softwoods snap when you bend them. It is apt to make a cutting early in the morning when the woods is fresh and most turgid.

If the cutting breaks readily, it is too immature. In contrast, if it does not break, the cutting is mature and has fewer chances of rooting.

Consider the following instructions if you are confused about where to begin!

  • When you select the cuttings, avoid the shoots with long internodes.
  • Make an oblique cut below the nodes and remove the leaves from the cuttings. 
  • Dip the cutting in hormodin, which helps encourage the growth of healthy roots.
  • Insert the cuttings in washed sand, one and a half inches deep. 
  • Create a space between the cuttings so they will not touch each other.
  • Cover the cuttings with polyethylene to ensure that it is airtight. 
  • Remember to remove the cover on a humid day and keep removing the falling leaves and dead cuttings. 
Lilac’s stem cuttings with 4- to 6-inch is enough to propagate.

Lilac roots will take seven weeks to form in the soil. If it is unsuitable, move to the next!

Rooting Lilac cuttings in potatoes are also possible. For this, make a deep hole to adjust the cutting, coat the cuttings with the rooting hormone, and place it inside the potato.

Hardwood Cutting 

You can cut the hardwoods of Lilac during the dormancy period.

If you cut the hardwood during the process of bud formation, the energy to form new roots will be invested in producing flowers.

Remember! growing roots from hardwood cutting are less successful and take longer than softwood cutting.

When cold months arrive, follow the instructions below.

  • Select a healthy plant with a straight stem at least 0.5 inches thick.
  • Gather and sterilize the pruners or knives with rubbing alcohol.
  • Make an angled cut at the base of the plant just below the leaf node and remove the leaves from the cuttings.
  • Soak the cuttings in the water and apply rooting hormones specially prepared for hardwood cuttings.
  • Add peat-perlite compost to the soil.
  • Dig the hole enough to fit the cuttings.
  • Place the cuttings in a container with drainage holes or directly on the ground.

After you finish these steps, you must wait until next spring when the Lilac begins developing its leaves.

Above are all for propagation in soil, but you can also propagate Lilac cuttings in water.

To develop lilac roots in water, cut the stem cuttings, place the cuttings in a glass of water and remove the leaves that dip in the water. 

When rooting the stems in water, change the water frequently every day or once two days. 

Lilac cutting takes six to eight weeks to develop roots in water. Once the roots are successfully grown, you need to ultimately place the cuttings in the soil medium. 

2. Propagation via Shoots

The Lilac plant will root easily when propagating through suckers or shoots.

As the lilacs have suckers near the plant base, you can dig up these suckers and transplant them to a pot during early spring.

Through this method, the Lilac plant takes almost three years to reach an adequate size. 

If you are ready to take on this challenge, follow the instructions below!

  • Identify a healthy shoot at the periphery of the Lilac plant.
  • Differentiate whether the part is a branch or shoot growing from the soil. 
  • Clear away the plant leaves to ensure that it is a sucker. 
  • After you recognize the shoot, dig a circle around the shoot. Keep digging with a shovel to find the root of the parent plant. 
  • Cut the hard root with a shovel blade and remove it from the soil along with the sucker. It is better to have multiple roots attached to the sucker.
  • After you remove the shoot with roots from the main plant, do not remove the mud or soil from it.
  • Soak the sucker in water for some days until it is ready to plant.

Let this video guide you if you are perplexed by the text.

3. Propagation via Layering

Another method is air layering which does not require much effort. Still, you must collect patience to witness your propagated Lilacs through this.

These are steps you need to practice during air-layering!

  • Firstly, remove the leaves 30 to 60 centimeters from the tip of the selected branch. 
  • Use a sterilized knife to cut the branch and only cut through the bark. 
  • Make another cut 2.5 centimeters below the first cut. 
The best time for air layering a lilac is Spring and late summer.
  • Extract the bark between two cuts to get a branch without bark.
  • Spray the rooting hormone to the cut and spread the sphagnum moss over its area. Then, cover the setting with a plastic bag and make it airtight. 
  • Do not let sunlight enter the branch. You can use paper that will help to prevent heat.
  • Wait for a few months till the root begins forming in the sphagnum moss.
  • After the roots develop, cut the roots and separate shoots from the parent.
  • Plant the shoots in garden soil mixed with peat moss, and remember not to remove the sphagnum moss.
  • Place the container in a shady location till the Lilac settles nicely into the soil.

After air-layering your Lilac, the plant takes almost three months to develop roots. 

Though grafting Lilacs needs expertise, it is beneficial for populating non-suckering Lilacs. 

4. Propagation via Seeds

Though propagation through seeds may take a long time for Lilacs to grow into the bush, it is a blessing for species of Lilac, like S. villosa and S. reticulata.

They don’t have cultivars, so propagation through seeds can help the new plant carry the parental characteristics. 

Comparatively, Lilac seeds take months to turn into seedlings.

The seeds of Lilac germinate at warmer temperatures. If you have prepared all requirements, begin with the following.

  • Dip the seeds in the water for a day.
  • Keep the soaked seeds inside a bag of perlite and seal it.
  • Refrigerate the seeds for two months.
  • After refrigeration, sow the seed in a container of balanced garden soil.
  • Place the container where it gets adequate light, and ensure sufficient moisture in the soil.

It takes three years for the Lilac flower to bloom after you grow it from seeds. The seed will take about one month to germinate.

After seeds grow into seedlings, you can transplant the seedling into moist and fertile soil in spring. 

However, propagation of Lilac through seeds is less considered as it takes longer.

Therefore, other propagation methods can be your choice over seeds if you want Lilac to bloom more quickly.

Tips to Care for Recently Propagated Lilacs 

If you have successfully finished rooting the Lilacs through propagation, congratulations! However, your responsibility does not end.

Provide good care with the following instructions.

  • Lilacs are sun-loving flowers, so ensure full sun exposure to Lilac for at least 6 to 8 hours per day.
  • Moist, well-drained, and slightly alkaline soil of pH 6.5 to 7.0 provides the ideal condition for the Lilac to flourish.
Lilac grown in pots need transplantation later in the garden.
  • Water the propagated Lilacs once or twice a week or when the top soil becomes dry during growing seasons. And deep water Lilacs once in ten to fourteen days during their flowering season. 
  • Lilac flowers can bloom best in average temperatures of 75° F. But, they can tolerate cold temperatures up to -40° F.
  • Lilac bushes can flourish well in a relative humidity of 50-60%
  • The first year of planting Lilacs does not require fertilization. But you need to apply the general balanced fertilizer annually later. 
  • You should prune the lilac bushes annually after the propagated Lilacs get two years old.
  • Use potassium bicarbonate to treat if the Lilacs suffer from Powdery mildew. 
  • Also, apply pesticides to drive away pests like scales and borers from Lilac plants.


The different propagation methods of Lilac help you replicate and multiply your favorite plant at a negligible expense.

I have explained all possible ways to multiply Lilacs, so you can perform any of them based on your expertise and resources. 

If you want to polish your propagation skills, learn about propagating Monstera Adansonii and Croton Plant.

Happy Gardening!

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