Lilac Dreams and the Dance of the Flower Fairy
If you have ever had the pleasure of smelling a lilac, it will not soon be forgotten!
I have always loved lilacs, we had a very old and tall bush growing on our property growing up in Canada. I used to think that flower fairies must have danced in their branches, and worn lilac flowers as the prettiest floral ballgowns. The color was a lovely deep lavender that would fade to a paler shade as the short bloom time came to an end. I knew then that the “flower fairies” had left their dance, and would soon be found swaying in the breeze in the roses and peony bushes. After moving to California, and zone 9b, I thought my lilac days were behind me. What an unexpected delight to find that our new home had a lilac bush out by the walkway! I think I wanted this house as much as for the lilac bush, as for the open concept rooms that were filled with light from the large windows. I fell in love with the well-tended gardens, but the lilac was like a siren song calling my name, and besides, we had a daughter who also believed that flower fairies danced in the leaves, and wore the prettiest lavender lilac ballgowns.
We moved in early August but had plans that kept us away until September, so when we returned I was disheartened to see the lilac seemingly suffering under the relentless heat. Although we had automatic sprinklers, the leaves were browned and some powdery mildew also was evident. I thought our poor lilac was a goner until I did some research and here is what I learned.
How to Grow and Care For Lilacs
The Common Lilac Syringa Vulgaris prefer a cooler climate, and does best in full sun and well-drained ph neutral to alkaline soil. It blooms in the Spring and attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and pollinators. It is drought resistant once it’s established, and will give years of delightful blooms without much care.
Lilacs bloom on old wood, and must only be pruned after the flower is completely spent. Prune immediately after the flower is finished blooming, cut back weak branches, small suckers, and deadwood. If you prune too heavily or at the wrong time, it will result in the loss of blooms for 1-3 years. Don’t over-fertilized, or they won’t bloom, Lilacs are also prone to slug and snail attack, so that needs to be addressed, and snails and slugs removed from the base, or leaves. Lilacs like good drainage, and a good winter chill, but they can be grown without freezing conditions. They also are prone to powdery mildew, or leaves that burn and become unsightly, but it doesn’t affect or hurt the lilac.
There are many variety of lilacs, and they can be grown in a variety of zones. I would recommend checking your particular zone and garden center to see if growing them where you live is a possibility. If you do, not only will you be delighted with their incredible fragrance, you may just see a flower fairy or two dancing in the leaves wearing lavender ballgowns!