How to Propagate Lilacs from Cuttings

Lilacs (Genus Syringa) are a wonderful variety of ornamental garden plants always well desired for their exclusively fragrant foliage and attractive heart-shaped delicate blooms. They were historically propagated as native shrubs in East Asia and Southeastern Europe, but today, they’re commonly desired as decorative plants.

Lilacs are a family of about sixty varieties of highly fragrant garden plants; they typically scent a spring-like blend of fresh aromas that is sweet, powdery, romantic, and almond-like; a garden of Lilac plants is known to be full of beauty, sweetness, and refreshingly enchanting.

A great addition to their all-around perfectness is their simple propagation needs. Lilacs are categorized among the easiest garden plants to propagate, and because they’re not so overly particular in their needs, they’re ideal for first-time propagators.

Propagating Lilac Plants

Lilac plant

It’s best to propagate them in their active growing season. Lilacs are best propagated from early spring (April) to Summer (beginning in June). There’s a great advantage in getting the timing right for their propagation.

Cuttings mostly propagate lilacs, but a more highly successful method of propagating them is by their suckers. Below is a breakdown of the best ways to propagate them.

Propagating Lilacs from Cuttings

Although the chances of success are quite lower, the risk is complimented by rooting several cuttings simultaneously.

Select the younger healthy stems directly attached to the plant for the cuttings. Each stem should have good foliage and not be less than 4-6 inches long; the longer, the better.

Use a sharp cutting tool to cut off the stem with the growing leaves well attached and remove the leaves closest to the lower edges, allowing only those at the extreme ends to remain on the stem.

Rooting your Lilac Cuttings

It’s best to root your cuttings in a Potting medium because the chances of success when rooting in water are much lower and almost a waste of time.

Prepare the Potting Mix and pour it into the pot; if you’re using a rooting hormone, dip the cut edges of the cuttings in water before touching the rooting hormone powder.

We don’t wait for the stems to be calloused when propagating Lilacs because only fresh cuttings have a chance of rooting successfully.

Now insert the cuttings into the little holes already made on the pot’s surface and make them firm by adding more soil mix. Ensure the soil mix is moist enough; if not, water the pot thoroughly after planting and ensure the water runs out completely to avoid killing the cuttings before they begin to root.

Place the pot on a brightly illuminated flat surface with more than six hours of daily indirect sunlight. It would help if you only watered the pot after the topsoil looked dry.

Your cuttings will begin to grow new roots and leaves after 6-10 weeks.
The newly propagated Lilacs may spend the first three to four years adjusting to their new environment before they get fully settled in and blooming, saturating the entire garden with their refreshing fragrances.

Propagating Lilacs from Root Suckers

This method is a faster, easier, and more straightforward way to propagate Lilacs, especially because the risks are minimal and the chances of success are very high. Suckers are outgrowths or pups developing in the root of a mature lilac that has grown their roots and leaves too.

It’s easy to propagate these suckers. All you need to do is first remove the plant from its pot. If it doesn’t come out easily, you can tilt the pot sideways and gently rock it back and forth until it slides out. Getting the plant out of moist soil is easier than a dry one, so some moisture might help.

Once the plant is out, separate the suckers from the mother plant and repot them in a new potting soil mix, just like a freshly made cutting.

Propagating Lilacs by Seed Germination

Lilac seeds

A more natural way to propagate Lilacs is by simply planting and growing them from seeds. Although there’s a little technicality to attaining success, seed propagation is also a very successful method of propagating them.

Pretreatment of the seeds is essential to the propagation process. First, immerse the seeds in a flat bowl of water for a day or two; this weakens the covering coat and prepares the seeds for germination.

After the seeds are well hydrated, place them on a thin sheet of foil or tissue paper to dry out the moisture. Get some watertight bags and pour in a handful of garden soil or perlite. Now put the hydrated seeds into the bags and seal them before storing them in a cool area, maybe a refrigerator or close to an AC vent.

This process is called Stratification and allows the seeds to germinate as they would during winter. The soil or perlite should be kept moist with regular light sprays or misting.

Once they begin to sprout, they can be transplanted into a potting medium after a month or two. It’s easy to tell Lilacs are propagated by seed germination because they look different from the mother plant and mostly take years to attain their first budding and blooming season.

Lilac’s Sunshine Needs

Unlike many other similar ornamental garden plants, Lilacs have great tolerance for the bright illumination of summer’s sunshine. They should be under the full glare of daily sunshine at maturity.

Growing them under direct sunlight benefits their development, although it’s important to only expose them directly to sunlight when they’re well-matured. Younger plants should be positioned behind a shade or transparent window frame with adequate indirect sunshine.

The amount of sunshine received daily invariably affects their health and lifespan. A healthy Lilac plant in a well-aerated and enriched soil medium, getting sufficient sunshine, will thrive for more than 100 years.

Best Potting Medium to Propagate Lilacs

Lilacs generally flourish in well-aerated warm, moist soil pottings with good drainage to remove excess moisture. The optimum pH range for their propagation stands between 6.5-7.8, which indicates their preference for neutral to mildly alkaline environments.

It’s always advisable to grow them in an enriched soil mix for better results. A homemade lightweight potting mix ideal for lilacs would comprise four parts potting soil, one part compost or other organic compounds, and five parts potting mix, all blended.

The Potting Mix could be any fast-draining succulents soil mix or a cactus potting mix. You can also improve the aeration and drainage by adding perlite and peat moss into your homemade blend for better results.

Watering your new Lilacs

With infrequent watering cycles, lilacs prefer to remain warm and partially dry for longer periods. Keeping the roots and leaves dry for only a short time is important to keep them bright and shiny.

Watering them excessively would hinder their preparation to bloom in their blooming season. It is best to maintain a regular watering cycle every 10-15 days in their active seasons. They will require much less watering during winter and fall, their resting seasons.

I recommend deeply watering them in a quick draining pot only when the topsoil layer looks dry and crispy. Ensure to completely drain the excess water after each watering cycle to prevent root rots.

How tall can Lilacs Grow?


Although they look quite fragile and simple, Lilacs are surprisingly tenacious and great in their adaptability; a healthy pot can grow as tall as 12-15 feet and 10-12 feet in diameter; this doesn’t account for the smaller miniature varieties which appear smaller.

Some varieties of Japanese origin, such as the Syringa reticulata, are known to grow to tower heights as high as 25-30 feet tall.

It’s quite easy to confuse lilacs for Lavenders, but their differences become more pronounced as you interact with them separately and together. Lilacs are generally more of a blend of deep purple with a pink hue, whereas lavender looks deep purple in a bluish hue.

Different Lilacs are propagated for their distinct symbolisms. Purplish lilac plants are generally regarded as symbols of spiritual essence; the white lilacs represent cleanness, purity, and sanctity, the more bluish lilacs are commonly denoted as happiness and fulfillment, while lilacs that bloom reddish-purple flowers represent tenderness, intimacy, and love.

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