Lilacs are one of the most visually striking shrubs out there, with the pyramid-shaped clusters of small cylindrical flowers that enchant your garden with a pleasant, intense fragrance and various colors ranging from white and light purple to a brighter purple.
Apart from being extremely pretty to look at, they are also easy to grow and maintain, but sometimes, even after your dedication, care, and hard work, lilacs may not bloom.
There are many factors why this could happen, so keep reading to learn all about them and how to solve them so you can enjoy those beautiful, purple, and fragrant blooms.
Why Are My Lilacs Not Blooming?
Lilacs often bloom quite consistently, although occasionally they don’t, and there are several factors that may cause a lilac to not bloom; the most common reason is due to over-pruning your lilac.
Aggressive Pruning of your Lilac Shrub
If you feel your lilacs need pruning, please hold off until they have finished flowering. Don’t wait until the beginning of spring when the crape myrtles and grass will have been prepared for the new season or until after fall when mid-late flowering bushes will be reduced. Lilacs produce buds relatively quickly after blooming is over because they blossom on wood from the former year.
They might even form during the beginning of summer after many of your sweet-scented paster flowers start to turn brown. So, be vigilant and resist cutting them off.
Lilac buds are much different from other buds that are dark in color, small, and pointy. Lilac buds are bright green, round, and big.
If you notice little buds growing under this year’s growth, forget about pruning them or trying to shape your shrub since it is already too late for it now. However, if you have decided your lilac needs a trim that can’t wait until next year, try to snip off around one-third of the older, overlapping branches of your plant.
This is referred to as a renewal prune and will preserve 2/3 of your shrub for springtime lilac activity. Although the flowers won’t be as regular or uniformly spaced, it will still be an improvement over nothing.
The Climate is not Suitable for the Lilac to Bloom
Lilacs can grow in regions with little humidity and a year-round seasonal pattern of temperature fluctuations.
The lilac needs this cycle of successive changes in temperature, particularly in the chilly winter months, in order to bloom.
Lilacs need a period of chilly hibernation in order to mature their buds and produce flowers. Because of this, lilacs frequently have trouble blooming in climates with warmer winters.
Although lilacs can withstand very cold temperatures, they cannot handle mild temperatures or excessive humidity since these conditions are not similar to those in their natural habitat.
Lilacs grow best in USDA areas 3–7 because of the environment there, which promotes more dependable flowering.
Lack of Sunlight
Lilacs love the sun and need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight to blossom. They can also bloom under the indirect sun, but there won’t be as many as the blooms direct sunlight can get you.
If lilacs are placed under deep shades, the likelihood of them never flowering and losing their overall health increases.
These beautiful shrubs are native to Southern Europe in the Balkan Peninsula, where they thrive on rocky mountains and hills and enjoy the regular full sun.
If your lilac is placed under a heavily shaded area, it is better you move it to a place with plenty of sunshine; however, make sure you move it during autumn or early spring. This will stimulate blooms and promote stronger roots and the overall health of the lilac.
Cut back on any surrounding trees or branches that may be shading your lilac to enjoy a healthier and flowering plant.
Lilacs Need Deadheading
Even though harsh pruning is not advised, it is still important that you get rid of dead blooms. Deadheading will help rejuvenate and revive your plant to flower during the upcoming season as it sends a signal to the roots to produce more flowers.
Your lilac’s inherent instinct is to focus its energy on supporting the seeds after the petals have faded, and as a result of deadheading, production will accelerate by the elimination of the spent blossoms.
Deadheading must be done as soon as the blooms of the season have faded and repeated when required. If your lilac is reblooming, buds will blossom immediately after the season; however, if your lilac is single-flowering, buds will appear during the upcoming year’s flowering season.
Eliminating spent blossoms is easy, but it requires using the appropriate tools. A sharp and sterile scissor or clipping tool should suffice. All you need to do is cut a slit above the first set of new leaves beneath the faded blossom. Remove as many spent blossoms as you can to enjoy beautiful blossoms the next year.
Too Soggy or Dry Roots
Wet feet are your lilac’s enemy. Lilacs require soil that is well-drained so that their roots are not damp, as this reduces blossoms and leads to root rot.
When you are deciding on a place to plant your lilac, make sure it is not next to a plant that necessitates a lot of water and the soil is well-draining. Also, make sure the place is not too low since it will collect more water leading to wet feet. Additionally, check that the compost is spread correctly to direct excess water away from rather than towards the base of your lilac plants.
If your lilac is planted in a pot, make sure it has plenty of drainage holes at the bottom so the soil can easily drain. If your lilac is in a garden, Ensure the soil gradient declines downward from them to prevent water from standing on their roots.
Examine the soil around the stems of your lilac plant as well. Work some organic stuff, perhaps even some sand, into the soil if it feels too clay-based or sticky. Make an effort to build bedding that uniformly drains and doesn’t retain water.
In contrast, drought can stress lilacs, which could also result in a decrease in flower yield. Lilacs might need some more watering during prolonged dry periods; however, they usually might not need it after the first few years, once the plants have matured.
Be careful not to overwater when providing water to the roots of your lilac plants. Always choose a leisurely soak over a quick flood.
Generally, older, more mature lilacs are not impacted by drought, but younger or freshly planted shrubs may be, and they may produce significantly fewer flowers as a result.
Provide the lilac with good watering and add a 2-inch covering of mulch all around the shrub’s base to reduce drought stress, but make sure the mulch is not in direct contact with the stem since this could lead to rot.
Consider incorporating mulch to enhance the texture of the soil. Well-rotted manure, leaf mold, or compost are good choices for mulch as they help retain moisture making the lilacs thrive and bloom during springtime.
Excessive Nitrogen Content in Soil
There is no need for supplementary fertilizer for lilacs. They soak up nutrients quickly and efficiently from the soil.
It is very common for novice gardeners to provide lilacs with additional fertilizers since they assume it will help in producing blossoms; however, this is quite the opposite of what would happen.
Too much fertilizer will contrarily reduce the number of blooms and make them less impressive. It turns out that applying a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to lilacs will promote leaf development instead of flower production. Use a different fertilizer with a 5-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, or avoid it completely.
Because lilacs are generally grown close to grass fields and, more often than not, receive enough nitrogen through lawn fertilizers accidentally, it is better to keep nitrogen-rich chemicals away from the root system and the base of the plant.
A Crowded Root System
While first planting your young lilacs, you may have become over-excited and spaced them too closely, not considering the fact that they will grow and expand and eventually need more space to thrive.
Their canopy spans are frequently exceeded by the lilac’s extensive root systems. This implies that your lilacs might be fighting with other plants for soil, minerals, and water.
You may have to remove some plants next to your lilac to thin out the perimeter plantings. Alternatively, try transferring any nearby plants with potentially aggressive root systems to a new location.
Similar to how a lilac growing in a pot would stop blooming if its roots have taken up all of the space they can. You can move your lilac shrub into a bigger pot. Conversely, you may briefly uproot it, cut a few of the outer roots, and repot it.
Your Soil may be Too Acidic
Another reason for a lilac not blooming could be soil that is too acidic. Lilacs can thrive in sandy, well-draining soils that are most balanced or alkaline in ph levels. The lilac will probably be too stressed to bloom, and the development will probably be extremely poor if the soil is overly acidic.
Lilacs can bloom exceptionally well in mildly acidic conditions and can endure them. The acidity of the soil may stop the lilac from absorbing some minerals, which may hinder flowering.
To make sure the lilac isn’t flowering due to the soil’s acidity, you can always collect a sample of soil and test its pH.
Early or Late Freeze
Even though lilacs are native to colder climates and are most likely not to experience any harm due to harsh winters, their blooms might still be negatively impacted. Sudden temperature changes or atypical climate patterns can harm their flower buds.
Since lilacs require a lengthy, cold cycle of hibernation to produce blossoms, any frost before or after a warm-up season can adversely impact the growth of the plant. A long warm spell during the wintertime, after your shrub has formally reached dormancy, could cause a premature awakening and lead its buds to grow. These flowers frequently sustain damage when frosts return, and a weak floral display is likely to come after.
Similarly, an extended early-Spring heat can also cause early bud development, and these blooms could be harmed when cold weather ultimately resumes. Flowers might not blossom at all, or petals might be unattractive and discolored.
Although it may be too late to stop frost damage from being the cause of this year’s failure of the lilac blooms, if you have a tarp or piece of fabric on hand to cover your bushes during unusually cold temperatures, you might be able to stop it from happening in the future.
Your Lilac is too Young.
Some lilac types can survive for 100 years or longer, making them relatively long-living shrubs.
It may take a lilac 2 – 3 years to flower effectively if it is young or has just been relocated.
This is so that the lilac may devote its first two growth years to developing its root system, which is essential for both short-term survival and long-term success.
The lilac can shift its focus from immediate survival following transplanting to creating a gorgeous array of blossoms once the roots are set.
Lilac Disease or Pest
Although lilacs are relatively immune to diseases and pests, some can restrict blooming.
- Leaf borers and scale insects may drain the sap from the stems and leaves of your lilac, reducing the amount of nutrition reaching its demanding blooms.
- Your lilac buds can get dark from bacterial leaf blight and not bloom.
- Your lilacs may possibly be suffering from a fungus called verticillium wilt.
After ruling out the typical reasoning causing bloom failure in your lilacs, examine the branches and stems near the plant’s base closely. The most harmful diseases and pests will initially start to appear there.
If you spot any disease or pest indications, immediately remove the affected stems and leaves to prevent further spread, and keep an eye on the plant all season long.
Although a lilac that hasn’t bloomed is indeed disappointing, especially if you’ve been expecting all year for some sweetly scented, lavender purple goodness, you can find solace in the knowledge that most bloomless lilac situations are only fleeting. You’ll be blessed with a blooming outburst the following year if you have perseverance, patience, and lots of sunshine!
This concludes all of the reasons why your lilac may not be flowering and how you can help and care for it so that you can enjoy plenty of flowers in the coming season.