How To Split Lilac Bushes: Learn How To Divide Lilac Bushes and Propagate Them

Split Lilac Bushes


Lilac bushes are a common member of the olive family and popular for their ornamental beauty. The most common colors in which you can find a lilac bush are lavender, blue, white, lilac, purple, and burgundy. Spring is the season when lilac bushes bloom in full mirth.


However, in order to thrive, they require a very particular type of environmental conditions. This includes full exposure to the sun, loamy soil type for growth, and care by pruning and splitting when required. Although they require water to grow as well, care must be taken to keep the soil around them well-drained. Lilac bushes can easily grow and expand as their shoots extend out of the main plant. Later, they can be pruned or split if you know how do you split lilac bushes.


In This Article


Why Is There A Need To Split Lilac Bushes?

The cutting of lilac bushes at regular intervals stimulates new growth in the plant. It also encourages the flowers to remain in bloom for a long period of time. Splitting the lilac bushes at regular intervals during a year also ensures that the dried and dead branches are removed from the plants, making them look fresh and beautiful at all times.


When Is The Right Time To Split Lilac?

The best time to split the bushes of lilac is when they do not produce any more flowers and when the existing flowers turn brown. It is during this time that the new shoots come up and can grow well for the next flowering season. You can split a lilac bush during the spring or autumn season, which is when the plants bloom the best. It is during this season that the soil is usually moist and easy to dig.


Compared with the favorable weather conditions and the fast growth of the lilac suckers, early spring is also a great time to split the bushes and propagate new lilacs from the suckers.


Lilac shoots are the easiest to transplant after the splitting of the bush. To decide on how to divide lilac bushes, all you need to split a lilac bush is a shovel, a pair of pruners or pruning shears, and some rocks. Additionally, you also require a lot of water, sunlight, fertilized soil, and compost to help the transplanted lilac bush to grow and bloom well.


Tips For Cutting The Lilac Bushes And Growing New Ones

If you were wondering ‘can you split a lilac bush’, then the answer is definitely yes! Just pick a time of late fall season or early spring. Before starting just read on to know more on how to split lilac bushes.


When thinking of how to split lilac bushes, however, there is a correct method and procedure to be followed. Without the correct steps, you’ll end up ruining your entire plant.


  • So, to start with the best way to split a lilac bush – begin by removing any small suckers at the base of the lilac stem.
  • You can also trim the lilac canes to a specific height to control the growth. It is important to trim off around one-third of the inner branches in the bush to prevent it from becoming too dense.
  • Alternatively, you can choose a low-lying branch of the lilac bush and place it in a well-dug ground with rocks and compost without separating it from the parent plant.
  • With the addition of mulch and regular watering, this branch will start to grow its own separate plant in as early as six months.
  • To grow new lilac bushes from a split bush, you need to remove the small suckers along with their roots from the base of the bush. Then, in a properly lit area of the garden, you must plant the shoot and fill it with soil. You must also water this planted shoot regularly.


Some precautions that you must take while cutting and growing new lilac bushes are as follows:


  • Always plant lilacs in a fertile, humus-rich neutral to alkaline soil, with a pH between 6.5 to 7.0.
  • You must also add compost to enrich the soil when growing new lilac bushes from a split bush.
  • Ensure that the transplanted bush gets enough sunlight and remains hydrated at all times for it to bloom well.
  • It is also recommended to plant multiple lilac bushes around five to ten feet apart from each other.
  • After splitting and planting new bushes, put a layer of compost under the bush and add mulch to it, so that it retains any moisture and controls the growth of weeds.
  • When splitting a lilac bush, remove any dead branches, leaves and old shoots.
  • If your lilac bush is very old, it is recommended to cut down the oldest branches by one-third of their height thrice every year, so that new shoots can grow faster on them.


You can move on with growing and pruning the bushes only if you can successfully answer the question of can you split a lilac bush correctly.


Advantages And Disadvantages Of Splitting Lilacs

After going through how to split lilac bushes there might be questions about the viability and necessity of splitting. Let us peruse through some of the benefits of splitting a lilac bush.


  1. There are varieties of lilac trees that are known to become unmanageable if they are left to grow very tall. Splitting ensures that their bloom does not become unruly.
  2. Growing tall, the trees also suffer from the lack of sunlight for the middle and base-level stems. A light amount of splitting ensures that the thinning of stems allows sunlight to penetrate.
  3. There is a specific duration around which the splitting process is highly beneficial for lilac bushes. The best time would be immediately after flowering comes to a halt. On the other hand, letting it overgrow and proceed beyond the flowering period can lead to the termination of young developing buds. Therefore, splitting ensures optimum buds for the next season.
  4. Lilac bushes are quite hard in nature. With the right amount of splitting, the next growing season would see a stronger lilac growth with greater quality produce of flowers while retaining the best quality buds.
  5. In winters, lilac bushes are prone to damage. To ensure that the damaged areas do not affect the growth of the rest of the plant, they need to be split.


After looking at the pros of splitting a lilac bush, there might still be questions like can you split a lilac bush without knowing the whens and hows. The thing about splitting is that this process needs precision. Therefore, it is important to also understand why this process may have its disadvantages.


  1. If lilacs are split harder than necessary, then they might not bloom for a couple of years.
  2. There could be a lack of flowering during the growing season if the lilac bush pruning is postponed till late summer.
  3. Careful use of fertilizer is advised as excessive use may prevent flowering.
  4. Winters might cause damage to stems and a missed pruning can lead to lack of flowering and spread of damage.
  5. Cutting too little or too much of stem can lead to loss of buds and flowering.


These points would be highly useful once you have set your mind on understanding the depth of how to split lilac bushes.


How To Buy Lilac Bushes: Varieties To Consider

After delving into how to split lilac bushes and the whys, the next thing to consider is choosing the correct lilac bush to buy. This decision is very important to buy the right one. Here are some of the best varieties of lilac bushes you can look for.


  1. Common: This is the most familiar variety with a beautiful bright purple shade and strong fragrance. It can grow easily in any garden but blooms beautifully by May.
  2. Persian: These are some of the purest varieties of lilacs that bloom in star-shaped white color flowers. It grows rapidly and is one of the most requested types of lilac bushes for warm winter areas.
  3. Dwarf Korean: This variety looks mostly like a common lilac but is nearly ¼ the size of it. It blooms heavily during the mid to late spring season in tiny flowers. For a limited spaced garden, these are a perfect choice.
  4. Chinese: A unique mixed hybrid of common lilac, this is a midseason blooming, medium-sized shrub with arching branches. Its compact to large size makes it a perfect choice for a greenhouse or open space garden with full 6 hours of sunlight.
  5. Himalayan: Mostly found in the Himalayan region, this variety blooms into tubular white flowers in June-July. This cluster of dense lilacs looks beautiful and grows in a very specific environment.
  6. Lavender Lady: One of the best varieties for warm winters, it blooms spectacularly by spring. It is branched and clustered densely and grows under heavy to partial sunlight.


These varieties are some of the most preferred and can be purchased based on the environment of the place.


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. How close together can you plant lilacs?

Ans. If you are willing to plant more than one lilac bush, the best way to do that would be by spacing them out at a distance of at least 5 feet between two plants. This will help to prevent overcrowding of the plants. If you plant them too close, you may worry how to split lilac bushes, if and when you have to.


Ques 2. Can you split a shrub?

Ans. Yes, you can split a shrub but this requires utmost care. Make sure that you are splitting the plant before the leaves have emerged completely out of the tight buds of the plant. With minimal damage try to keep the root bulb intact with each split. Do not forget to add rich soil content at the place where you plan to plant the bush. Also, ensure that the location where you are planting the bush has ample access to sunlight.


Ques 3. Are coffee grounds good for lilacs?

Ans. Besides knowing how do you split lilac bushes, you may also want to know how good it is to use coffee grounds for your lilac bushes. While they are a good source of nitrogen for the plants, it is best for you to use them sparingly, without going overboard as it may lead to excess addition of nitrogen in the soil.


Ques 4. Is there a difference between a lilac tree and a lilac bush?

Ans. If you know how to split lilac bushes, you may also know that bush lilacs are very much different from lilac trees. While the bush is usually short and compact, a lilac tree can grow tall and have a proper appearance of a tree. While they aren’t true trees, their appearance does not make it right to call them bushes.


Ques 5. How do you rejuvenate a lilac bush?

Ans. If you have an old or neglected lilac bush in your backyard, you can stop wondering ‘can you split a lilac bush’ because it may not work as well for the bush. The best way to rejuvenate a bush is by pruning
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Planting a lilac bush may be the best way to remodel or beautify your gardens. These pretty plants need some care like knowing how to divide lilac bushes or can you split a lilac bush. With the right care, these plants will bloom to become a show of beauty in your humble abode.


To take care of your lilac bushes, remember to feed them the right amount of water, fertilisers and remove weeds if they grow out of the bushes. If you are planning to plant new lilacs, you can do so in the midweek of September, which is the best time for this purpose.


Remember that there is a right season to perform any task on your lilac bushes, so take care not to ignore them. By taking care of these tips, you will be able to beautify your garden and make it appear pleasant with the sight of these pretty flowers.