Updated: Apr 23, 2020
A member of the Olive family and has pink, lilac sweet-scented flowers. Native to the Balkan and South East Asia it is now naturalised in much of Europe. Is popularly grown in gardens and parks and spring-flowering border shrub, and was introduced into English Gardens around the 17th century.
Styles: As bonsai, they make bonsai excellent medium to large multi-stemmed clump styled bonsai and are grown as spring-flowering bonsai. They are typically found in the upright styles.
Position: The Lilac is a hardy species but they don’t like their roots being frozen, If temperatures are likely to go below -4°C then they are best over-wintered in a cold greenhouse.
Watering: Needs a fair amount of water, especially before flower production. They can be severely damaged by drought, but don’t like soggy pots either, so allow the surface to moderately dry before watering again.
Repotting: The shrubs grow rapidly from suckers, so it needs to be kept in check often and are best repotted every year if not every couple of years after flowering is completed. Use a well-draining, rich, organic bonsai mix. Use leaf-mould or bark and loam and sharp sand in equal parts. Alternatively, you can use Akadama and pumice in the ration of 2 to 1.
Pruning: The Lilac does not need too much pruning, new stems are encouraged to keep the plant in vigorous health. Older woodier stems may be removed every 6-10 years when suitable replacements are available. prune after flowering, in late spring-early summer, avoid pruning later if you want flowers. Prune back shoots to leave 3 active nodes or lateral shoots.
Wiring: Branches can be very brittle, so shaping is best done with the clip and grow method, rather than wiring. If wiring must be done, it is best to wire in autumn, taking care to protect the bark.