Lilac bushes are attractive green shrubs with fragrant, light purple-colored blossoms. The blooms spring forth in clusters, similar to a hydrangea plant but not quite as round or full. Lilac bushes are sought out by gardeners for their aromatic scent, which carries for blocks with a stiff breeze. Since lilacs bloom for only a few weeks in the spring, some gardeners choose to plant multiple varieties that bloom early, mid and late spring to extend their blooming period. Lilacs were brought to the United States in the late 18th century and are still planted today in gardens across America. They are particularly popular in New York, which declared the lilac bush its state flower in 2006.
Decide what kind of lilac bush you want to plant. Understand that lilac varieties range from 5 to 30 feet tall, and select a size that fits the planting space.
Pick a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining, compost-rich, slightly alkaline soil. Test a sample of your soil at your local county extension office or send it to a laboratory in your city that tests soil to make sure the soil is not acidic (pH above 7.0).
Dig a hole in the ground with a garden shovel that is twice as wide and deep as the pot in which your lilac bush is housed. Carefully cut away the plastic lining of the pot. Hold the bush over the hole you dug with one hand while gently breaking apart the soil and roots with your other hand. Continue breaking up the soil until the main roots of the bush are exposed.
Make a reservoir with your hands in the center of the partially filled hole and set the lilac bush roots gently inside it. Fill the hole with equal parts compost and soil from your garden. Firmly press the bush into the ground with your hands around its base. Make a slight moat around the base of the bush by pressing the soil down with your hands.
Water the bush thoroughly. Wait three days and then apply a liquid nitrogen fertilizer to the bush with your next watering. Continue watering regularly but only apply nitrogen fertilizer three times a year to the bush to achieve optimum blooming from the lilac. Space multiple lilac bushes 5 to 15 feet apart, depending on the height of the lilac, as larger lilacs need more space between them than shorter, 5-foot varieties.
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