Lilac is a beautiful, fragrant and versatile flowering plant of the Oleaceae family that can light up any garden as a border plant, ornamental shrub or ground cover.

Right Way Transplanting Lilacs

It is quite easy to transplant a lilac bush. In this guide prepared by our expert gardeners, we will help you learn all about transplanting and shifting lilacs the right way. 

How To Transplant Lilacs

Transplanting or replanting lilacs can vary depending on the variety that you have used. Some large lilac varieties can get eight to 12 feet tall while a few others remain shorter. Always try to transplant young lilacs as it is easier to transplant and move them as compared to the bigger shrubs.

Their vigorous growth helps the bush establish its roots fast and settle in the new surroundings easily.  Here are the important points regarding the growth requirements that you need to remember to grow lilacs properly.

– Examination

To transplant, grasp the plant firmly by the base and tap the container to loosen up the soil. Keep a hand underneath the root ball. Dig a hole that is about twice the size of the lilac root system in the new location. Make sure that the root ball is not above the soil level. 

Once you have filled in the soil and placed the plant properly, make sure there are no air pockets by watering it thoroughly.

– Sunny Location

Choose a sunny spot where your plants can receive lots of bright and direct sunlight during the day. These flowering plants love the full sun. Make sure they are away from shaded spots.

As they get larger, if they are planted near structures or walls or windows, keep them away from such spots. But remember to keep them in close vicinity to your house so that you can enjoy the blooms.

– Timing

Most lilacs bloom from mid-spring to summer. The blooms can last from two to six weeks. The more fertile and well-drained the soil, the longer the bloom time. One quite common purple lilac plant is Syringa vulgaris native to Eastern Europe. It is a shrub with fragrant, purple flowers that bloom for three to four weeks in spring

We recommend transplanting lilac bushes in spring (early to late spring) when the new growth starts to appear. Avoid shifting the plant in extreme summers or winters when the weather is too dry and unbearable. The soil is moist and easy to dig and it is easier for the plant to adjust to the new surroundings without going into shock. 

Lilacs Bush Plant

If you transplant late, your lilac plant might not have sufficient time to establish itself in the new soil mix. And in the winter months, you will notice it suffers more. If you are transplanting it in the fall, make sure you do it at least five to six weeks before the first frost date. 

After transplanting the lilacs, you might not see blooms in the current season as it takes almost a year for the plant to develop roots and adjust to the new surroundings. If you notice fewer blooms next season, do not worry. Just be patient and you will see lots of blooms from the second year onwards.

– Soil Mix

Prepare a well-draining and rich soil mix that is slightly elevated. Build up the soil a few inches up to plant the lilacs in elevated soil. Mix half portion potting soil with half portion mulch or organic compost to prepare a rich soil mix for lilacs.

This plant is susceptible to root rot. Once the plant gets root rot, it becomes difficult to bring it back to normal. So prepare a soil mix that has excellent drainage. For drainage, you can add some perlite or sand to the potting mix. Loosen the soil with a spade if it feels too compact and tight. 

– Removing the Plant 

Remove the plant from the current location by taking in as many roots as possible. You can avoid transplant shock if you manage to take most of the roots. Dig deep and wide to remove the entire root system. 

– Transplanting

Dig a hole twice as big as the root system in the new location and put lots of compost in the hole to increase fertility. Firm the soil around the plant’s roots and water it thoroughly without leaving any air pockets. It can take up to two months for the roots to form. 

If you are transplanting more than one lilac, make sure that the spacing is proper between two lilac plants. These plants tend to get wider and bigger with time. So it is crucial to prevent the crowding problem. 


– Fertilizer

Use a slow-release liquid or a seaweed fertilizer to feed the plant at the time of transplanting. When you are halfway through with putting in the soil mix, mix a slow-release fertilizer.

Apart from putting in a little bit of fertilizer while replanting, put a little bit on the topsoil too. One thing that you must remember, however, is not to put in too much fertilizer in the middle as over-fertilization can cause root burn.

– Watering 

If it is a new lilac plant, it will need water a couple of times a week to remain healthy but during the wet weather, you do not have to bother about it. As it gets older and matures, it gets more drought-tolerant.

Water the plant every three to four weeks initially in warm weather conditions but as it grows resilient and stronger, you can reduce the watering frequency.

Lilac Plant Watering

Avoid overwatering this shrub as it thrives when the soil is allowed to dry out significantly. 

Water the plant deeply each time such that the excess water drains out of the bottom drainage holes. To prevent problems like powdery mildew, avoid watering the leaves. Water the roots directly. 

– Shoots Appear

Lilac plant’s shoots are fast-growing when young but as they age to about a year or a year and a half, their growth slows down. Their wood is strong with dark gray to dark brown colored stems. Normally, it takes three to four years for the plant to flower from cuttings. The optimal size of the bloom might vary according to the variety grown.

Frequently Asked Questions 

– Should I Prune Lilac Bushes?

We recommend pruning lilacs just after they are done producing flowers in spring. It helps give new shoots ample time to grow, develop strong roots and produce flowers next season. If you prune them later in summer or fall, you will end up cutting off this year’s or next year’s flowers. 

While trimming lilacs, it is not enough to simply cut the overgrown stems at the top. You must cut off the entire stems using clippers. Cut about one-third of the stems. Also, cut the new stems that grow from the base of the main trunk. 

To improve the airflow and sunlight reaching the inner stems, cut off some of the inner branches. Remove the dead and spent flowers to prevent the plant from producing seeds. In larger bushes, cut-off shoots six to eight inches off the ground. 

– What Does a Lilac Shoot Look Like?

Lilac suckers or shoots are used for propagating the plant. These suckers or shoots grow from the base of the plant and are most often cut off with a mower due to their fast and spreading growth. You can dig these shoots with a shovel, shoving it down and cutting through the sucker root. 

– Do Lilacs Transplant Well?

The lilac root shoots transplant easily as compared to the entire plant or bush. Simply, dig them and transplant them to the new location. Avoid replanting a complete mature plant until necessary. 

lilac root shoots transplant

You can transplant the shoots directly into the ground or the pot. Just ensure that wherever you place the plant, it should receive full sunlight during the day. 


Lilac is one of the easiest to move bushes which takes minimum effort and time. Here is a recap of several important things you need to remember before repotting lilac bushes:

  • Lilacs grow well again after they are transplanted in spring. But to prevent lilac transplant shock, ensure that the weather is sufficiently cool and pleasant for healthy new growth. 
  • Try to transplant the younger and smaller plants instead of the mature ones as they are easier to move and also adapt easily to the new surroundings.  
  • These plants need full, bright sunlight with warm weather conditions to grow well. So choose the location wisely. 
  • Make sure that you do not disturb or damage the root ball while transplanting these shrubs. Be gentle while removing the plant to avoid root breakage. 

Now that you know how to move the versatile lilacs, when are you planning to transplant yours?

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