Why won't my lilac bush bloom?

redzinnia3January 5, 2008

I have had a lilac bush for four years but it has never bloomed. It is very healthy and green and grows bigger every year but never blooms. Any suggestions on how I can help it bloom?

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Dibbit(z7b SC)

How big was it when you planted it? If it was still young, then it may take another year or two - lilacs have to be a certain minimum age or size to bloom, but I forget the number. If it is planted in lawn, and the lawn is well fed, the lilac may be getting too much nitrogen, which encourages leaves at the expense of flowers. If your soil is very acidic, then the lilac may be struggling - they like a sweeter, more basic soil, but since you say it is lush and green, I doubt that's your problem. Take a look at the ends of the branches - if there are very fat buds next to thinner buds, then it set some flower buds last summer, and you may - depending on the severity of the winter, late spring frosts, etc., etc. - get a few flowers this spring. It takes a few years before most lilacs are full of flowers, like you see in the photos. There are exceptions, but in general, it just takes time. Which is probably NOT what you wanted to hear, but....

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 6:53PM
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If you are cutting off the branch tips (pruning at the wrong time) you may be removing the next year's flower buds.

How many hours of sun does it get? They prefer full sun, and will leaf our fine but not bloom if they're in too much shade.

The more info you provide, the more likely we can figure out the problem. Plant size, water, soil type (sandy, clay, lean or rich), and sun exposure are a few of the useful pieces of the puzzle, along with anything you or anyone else has done to the shrub, like feeding, watering, pruning.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 7:54PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I have also found that lilacs take years to bloom when started from small plants.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 2:21PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

This is why I only buy a lilac that is IN BLOOM to show me the color and that bush will bloom NOW. You could buy one that shows seeds from the season's flowers, to prove it had bloomed. They all seem to KEEP blooming if they have flowered once. I only trim sucker growth on small bushes, never tops or sides.

I am unwilling to invest the time anymore. I grew one lilac for almost 10 years, waiting for flowers. Then it was not the color the tag promised!! It was a common, light purple lilac. I was SO ANGRY about the time I had invested in that bush.

Some tiny lilacs do bloom in spite of size. I got a Sensation, purple with white edge, blooming on a 12inch high stick. Bloomed every year after as well. The color just was not that great from a few feet away, even on the bigger bush. Up close, 2ft, flowers were pretty, you can see them well. I thought it would have terrific color contrast from the photos.

The Belle of Moscow, white double, is a very lovely one, blooming on a 3ft stick, 2 years now. EXCELLENT smell as a bonus.

Now if I can talk the neighbor out of a shoot from her bush. They have the most SPECTACULAR wine-purple lilac, blooms huge flowers in large quantities with great smell. I covet that bush!!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 10:46PM
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Hallelujah, after five years my lilac bush finally bloomed for the first time. Thanks for all of your responses.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 9:36PM
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One of my 5-year-old lilacs (just regular old Syringa Vulgaris), finally has flower buds, as well. The fifth year's the charm, apparently. My "Miss Kim" and Dwarf Koreans, planted in the same year, have been blooming from the get-go, but while they're nice, there's nothing like those traditional "real" lilac blooms.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 4:21AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

Yup. There is something special about those "real" lilac blooms. Can you smell it?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 9:31AM
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Harryshoe, gorgeous photo--I wish it were scratch-n-sniff! Looking forward to it--I hope the hard freeze danger is about past (lost a LOT of new growth and flowers on just about everything last April).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 5:40PM
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I moved into a house about 10 yrs ago and there was a huge lilac bush in the front yard, but VERY over grown with branches that hung out every where. I didn't want to cut the bush down because I love lilac but I needed to really trim it. I only cut off branches that looked dead or totally dry nothing that was green and only from the sides nothing from the top so I thought it would be ok (I am no where near a gardening expert) but for the past few years it has gotten less and less bloom. Is it totally gone or do I just need to wait it out. It hasn't gotten a really good bloom in the past 6-7 yrs. I'm wondering if I should just give up but I keep thinking next year it will be better. Any suggestions??

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 5:43PM
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thanks all, I was about to give up on a bush my grandma gave me. But itsa baby n healthy so ill give it more time to grow up

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:46AM
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My lilac bloomed in the pot until I could plant it. Then 2 years at our new home and this no blooms. Why?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 10:45AM
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wvdiana(z6 WV)

I'll go everyone one better--I bought a lilac bush more than 30 years ago and it has never bloomed. Hasn't grown very tall either; it's only @ 3 feet tall. My soil has a lot of clay. Originally, it was planted in partial shade but I moved it to full sun 10 years ago or so. I've threatened to dig it out but am just stubborn enough to leave it year after year.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:13PM
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