ASK THE MASTER GARDENERS
My lilacs had more blooms than they’ve ever had this year. Why? Was it because of the cold winter? I mostly ignore mine. Are there things I should be doing to care for them?
Since we do not know which lilac you have, nor its age, it is difficult to be specific. In general lilacs and many other spring blooming plants need a cold period in order to set buds for the coming spring. A warm winter means few or no spring flowers.
Immature lilac plants do not bloom. As they mature the blooms start to appear in larger numbers. This may be the situation in your case. Lilacs mature after about five years of growth (standard varieties will be about 6 to 8 feet tall at this point).
Another possibility is that your lilac has more sun now than in past years. Lilacs need a great deal of sun to bloom well. Loss of a tree canopy that had shaded your lilac in the past may have contributed to better bloom this year.
Regular pruning will help your lilacs look their best. If your lilac is growing from its own rootstock, retain between eight and a dozen stems of various ages and sizes to produce the most flowers. Remove up to a third of the oldest stems each spring.
Too much fertilizer will result in a lush looking plant but few flowers. Most lilacs will grow well without fertilizer applications.
Two and one half inches of mulch will help retain moisture in the ground, but keep in mind that lilacs require well-drained soil and do not like wet roots.
I hope your lilac will continue to bloom profusely.
Krys Mernyk, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester