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Common Lilac

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Syringa vulgaris

A member of the Olive family has pink-lilac sweet-scented flowers. Native to the Balkans and Southeast Asia, but now is naturalised in much of Europe. It is popularly grown in gardens, parks, and spring-flowering border shrubs and was introduced into English Gardens around the 17th century.

Common Lilac Bonsai
Common Lilac Bonsai

Bonsai Care

They make bonsai excellent medium to giant multi-stemmed clump styled bonsai and are grown as spring-flowering bonsai. Lilac Bonsai are typically found in the upright styles.


Position: The Lilac is a hardy species, but they don’t like frozen roots. If temperatures are likely to go below -4°C, they are best over-wintered in a cold greenhouse.


Watering: Needs a fair amount of water, especially before flower production. Lilac Bonsai 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 proliferate from suckers, so they often need to be kept in check. They are best repotted every year 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 ratio of 2 to 1.

Common Lilac, Flowers
Common Lilac, Flowers

Pruning: The Lilac does not need too much pruning; new stems are encouraged to keep the plant in vibrant health. Older woodier branches 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 three 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 to protect the bark.


Propagation: Propagate from soft green cuttings of current-year shoots. Take cuttings of 10-15 cm. With a low to medium success rate, best to take a few cutting and help with some rooting powder. Usually, take 6-8 weeks to root.

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