Growing Plants

How To Grow Lilac from Seed? The Best Expert Tips

There are not enough words to describe the beauty of full-grown lilacs; their elegant, lovely shades of pink and purple serve as terrific landscape plants for any garden or backyard.

One burning problem remains for confused novices, though: how to grow lilac from seed?

Thankfully, the entire process is far from complicated, only requiring basic gardening knowledge and frequent attention. The guide below can hopefully smooth things out for you.

How to Grow Lilac From Seed

grow lilac from seed
Grow Lilac From Seed

How to grow lilacs from seeds?

Grow the lilac shrubs indoors/in cold frames before moving them outdoors to shaded spots. When autumn comes, transplant all your lilac seedlings to permanent beds for future development.

Don’t rush the process; these lilac flowers need proper transition time in between.

Required Equipment 

  • Paper, perlite, bowl
  • Spray bottle, seed compost
  • Lilac seed pods (4 inches) 
  • Sealable storage bags
  • Cold frame
  • Horticultural grit
  • Alkaline soil
  • Propagation mats

Step-By-Step Instruction

Step 1. Fill the shallow bowl with warm water. Soak your lilac bush seeds for an entire day to hydrate their embryo and soften the hulls.

Step 2. The next day, put out a paper sheet. Drain your lilac tree seeds for about five to ten minutes.

Step 3. Pour moistened perlite (about 1 cup) into the storage bag. Once done, press the winged seeds into this perlite until it covers them all. Reseal the bag, then stuff it into a refrigerator or vegetable drawer.

Step 4. Let the seeds chill for about two months to mimic winter conditions (experts refer to such techniques as stratifications).

After two months, use an atomizer or spray bottle to spritz this perlite when it goes dry (not completely dry, though, just enough.).

Step 5. Prepare the growing containers: remove the seeds from storage. Dig a hole, mix perlite, horticultural grit, and seed compost in equal parts into the pots.

Step 6. Sow one seed for every container at about a quarter-inch depth (1/4). Spread thin grit layers over the seed compost to insulate the mixture, then drizzle some water until its 1-inch depth feels moist.

Step 7. Set these containers indoors (near bright windows) or within insulated cold frames.

Warm them up with propagation mats (turned on at 70 F), and try to maintain consistent moisture for the soil’s top inch. Never let the seeds dry off during germination.

Step 8. Leave your propagation mats there for another two weeks before putting them away. Watch out for the first lilac sprouts in one month.

Then let the flower buds stay in cold frames until spring comes. After that, move all of them outdoors (to slightly shaded spots) as the last frosts vanish.

Step 9. Do the roots show up near the container’s bottom drainage holes? If yes, it’s time to transplant these seedlings into bigger containers. Use alkaline potted soil for optimal results.

Step 10. Keep growing the flowers with light shade and 1-inch water depth until autumn.

Now move them to permanent beds with fertile soil surface, partial sunlight exposure, and great moisture. Space them 10-11 feet apart to ensure equal nutrient reception.

How To Take Care of Your Lilac

how to plant lilac seeds
Take Care of Your Lilac

The recapped process above sounds very simple, no doubt. But it’s the little details that matter most – and here is where people’s gardening results vary.

Keep our tips in mind to ensure you do not fall into the negative end of the spectrum: 


After planting, double-check the flowers as frequently as possible and water them whenever the soil’s top inch becomes dryer (the usual estimation is about 1-2 times a week).

Count from one to ten while you are at it to guarantee just-right moisture – neither too little nor too much.

After about two months, you can reduce the watering frequencies to every 2-3 weeks.

From the second season onwards, lilacs will likely not demand any more water; the only exception is drought areas with no sight of rain for more than one month.


After the spring blooms arrive, it’s time for the feeding! Use high-quality plant foods to feed the lilac’s roots, following label instructions closely.

The market is never lacking when it comes to plant food categories. Nevertheless, our all-time favorite is options with chock-full, diverse ingredients, such as:

  • Earthworm castings
  • Kelp
  • Bone meal
  • Feather meal

They feed microbes to your soil, which continues to break organic matter into nutrients and supply the flowering plants.

Preventing Diseases 

Lilacs – particularly common ones – are infuriatingly vulnerable to powdery mildew. This issue has stressed millions of gardeners to no end without any viable solutions.

Hence, our best bet is simply to purchase mildew-resistant seeds in the first place. Check their online descriptions or plant tags to confirm!

Another great tip is to plant them in places with ample air circulation. No need to spray anything to control the fungal diseases if there are any; over time, they will vanish on their own.


Wait until the young lilacs start showing their first flowers (and we meant it; it might take 1-3 years!).

Then, cut off dying flowers at the root/base before they fade and wilt – similar to how you trim bottom spruce branches.

These lilac cuttings encourage the plants to pool more energy in formulating new buds – instead of wasting it on withering ones.

What Should You Do if The Lilac Refuses to Bloom? Extra Tips for Growing Lilac

how to grow lilacs from seeds
Tips for Growing Lilac

All those hard work and sleepless nights – yet still can’t see your lilacs bloom. Why? From our observation, here are the two most common lilac issues:

Late Freezes

They often arrive around late spring or mid-year (April to May). Severe ones wreak so much havoc on the lilacs that their buds might even fall off.

Solution: Cover them with garden sheets, cloths, or blankets.

Insufficient Light

Plants not having enough sunshine is another possible culprit you should look into. Lilac seeds need 6+ hours of sunlight (grow light counted) to bloom at their peak! 


  • Move the lilac plants to other spots
  • Prune the trees that shade them
  • Thin the bushes, allowing sunlight to get through the thick foliage.


To grow lilac from seed, one must frequently keep tabs on its sunlight, watering, and soil moisture.

But in return, the results in the end are totally worth it: wait until these fragrant flowers blossom in your garden and wow every visitor! 

For more help and support on growing lilacs from seeds, reach out to us as always.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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