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Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:43 pm

Lilacs in Austin, TX?

I grew up in Oregon/Idaho and my grandmother always had Lilacs. She sent me a start from her white bush and from her purple bush in the mail! I live in a new subdivision and I had planted them about a year ago clear in the back of my yard. The ground is really hard and rocky out there so after about 6 months when I wasn't seeing any growth out of them I moved them. I have a small patio on my sliding glass door in the back and I dug up a small section of grass in the yard in the shape of a circle a few feet away from each side of the patio. After I put them there I noticed in a couple months that they started growing healthy looking green leaves. However, they are still only a few inches tall and don't seem to be getting bigger. One of them seems to be getting wider and the other just seems to sit at the same height. I know that these aren't supposed to grow in Texas, but they've been alive for over a year and survived so much. I love Lilacs so much and none of the nurseries here have ever heard of them to be able to give me advice. Is there anything at all I can do to help these grow. My grandmother told me if I gave them enough love that they would grow even though they aren't supposed to. I really would love for them to grow because not only are they beautiful, they would serve as a reminder of my grandmother for years and years, even when she has left us. I recently tried to fertilize them with this fertilizer I found for bushes and I also put some mulch around them. Any suggestions or am I pining for a lost cause?

Full Member
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 10:35 am
Location: Ohio

Just be patient since they are so small right now. In the spring put a fertilizer around the bottom of them out where the widest point of the leaves grow and water it in good. I live in Ohio and it gets pretty hot here in the summer. Keep your plants watered until they start taking off. I always put some peat moss on the soil (mixed in) when I plant new perennials or bushes. It seems to help them a lot.
Good luck
Darlene :wink:

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Oh, I just want to mention that at the Helpful Gardener we don't recommend using peat moss for these reasons:

It contains little to no nutrients

It is nearly impossible to get wet once dry (and comes dry)

The harvesting of peat bogs is currently an environmental nightmare

Anyway here are some alternatives:

Cocoa Bean Hulls
Coconut Hulls
And I'm sure that there are others out there, anybody know of any?

Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 7:06 pm
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

How about simple compost. I mixed that with the soil. One thing though about Austin. It is basically in a semi-arid area, and the underlying soil may have a tendency to form calcium carbonate, which is very hard dirt (also called hardpan or caliche) and which may keep the roots of your lilacs from growing outside of the planting hole. If they don't grow outside of the planting hole, they can become root bound, which will stunt the tree, and eventually kill it. You'll want to make sure that your lilacs don't become rootbound. You may want to take a garden fork and break up some soil around your lilacs. You don't have to do a whole lot. Just stick the fork about 10 inches into the ground around the lilacs, six inches from the outside edge of the original planting hole and rock it back and forth. Go all the way around the planting hole doing this. Then go out about a foot, and do the same thing. You may have to do this several times over the years to promote good root growth.
Hope this helps.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 10:44 pm
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Janet,

A few other points I'd like to make about growing lilacs. With no disrespect to Darlene (Fancy), do be careful what fertilizer you use, if any. They rarely need fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will cause leafy growth at the expense of flowers. I agree with Opabinia about peat moss, but another reason not to use it with lilac is that peat is high in acid and lilacs prefer a more alkaline soil. Sprinkling a cup of lime around the roots in fall will help with bloom. It can take 5 to 7 years before new sprouts will be mature enough to bloom.

Desertgardener makes a great point about adding compost to break up hardpan soil.

Most lilacs will grow in zone 8, which I think Austin is in.

Here's how to grow lilacs.


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