How to propagate lilac from cuttings

While lilacs used to come in just two flavors—purple and white—there’s now amazing variety in their color, habit, bloom size, shape, and flowering time. Some lilacs are trees, a few are short and sweet dwarf varieties. And you can propagate lilac from cuttings.

There are two beautiful lilacs planted on each side of my neighbor’s front door, compact shrubs growing to about 8 to 9 feet tall and wide and covered with blooms every April. I finally asked if I could take a few cuttings and was given permission to come over with secateurs.

So, how difficult is it to propagate lilac from cuttings? Turns out, a little tricky, but not impossible!

Step One

In spring, take several cuttings of lilac bushes from tender new growth. Mature growth is unlikely to root, so it’s better to start with young shoots.

Aim for your cuttings to be about 4-5 inches in length and to have a few nodes - the points where the leaves are attached to the stem.

Remove bottom leaves from the cuttings leaving 2-4 leaves at the top.

Step Two

Prepare your planting pots, fill them with potting soil, add some perlite and sand for water drainage and retention. Moisten the soil well and  make a deep planting hole in every pot.

Dust the bottom part where you removed the leaves of your cuttings with rooting hormone (dipping them in water, and then directly in the bottle of rooting powder works for me).

Plant in the prepared holes, press the soil gently around the stems to make sure there is enough contact with the soil and no air pockets that will dry the plant.

Step Three

Set your plants in a warm location but not in the direct sunlight. Water daily, the soil should be constantly moist, but not soggy.

Depending on the weather, and on how green your thumb really is, the young plants can form a healthy root system in about 40-60 days. If everything goes well, you will see new healthy leaves growing, which indicates that your plants are ready to thrive. Provide them a spot with enough light and start watering a little less, allowing the top layer of the soil to become dry.

Let the plants mature before transplanting them into their permanent spot.


Good Luck!

Gardener Olivia

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