Rooting Lilacs from cuttings is an easy way to propagate this sweet smelling Spring favorite. Taking cuttings is an age old method of getting more plants from established ones to pass on or keep to expand your own garden.
Rooting lilacs from cuttings is a great way to get more of these beautiful bushes. Does your parents, grandparents or friend have a Lilac you would love to grow in your garden? You can replicate it by taking cuttings from it to root and grow on. This works great too if you are moving and can’t take your favorite Lilac with you.
May is typically when my neighborhood is filled with the scent of Lilacs. You know Spring has arrived in White Pines when everywhere you walk smells so sweet.
It is one of my favorite things about living here. The lilacs filling the yards and gardens in my neighborhood are all mostly heirloom varieties planted back in the 40’s.
White Pines was established for the workers of the old lumber mill. Highly fragrant and tough as nails, even the abandoned lilacs are performing with no irrigating or tending.
Tough, reliable plants are the best foundation for any easy care garden.
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Garden Safe Take Root (some of I have used in the past and did fine with)
Old wine crate or DIY WOOD CRATE
Peat Moss (I have now switched to Rice Hulls in place of peat moss) You can find it at most feed stores as well as this link on Amazon.
10 Gal. Fish Tank (I found mine at Wal-Mart)
Prepare Container for Lilac cuttings
First I prepare my propagation box.
This method with the crate is for starting a ton of cuttings at once. You can do something similar in pots. (For my latest method that works on a windowsill check out this post: ROOTING ROSES, it will work for the lilacs too!)
The crate has slats on the bottom with wide gaps for great drainage. This one is sitting on the gravel floor of my greenhouse. It gets great indirect light.
I fill the crate nearly full of potting soil.
Cover for Humidity
To maintain good humidity I use a clear cover or translucent cover that fits the crate.
These fish tanks come in handy in creating a mini greenhouse effect while being tall enough for longer cuttings. They last for years if proper care is taken of. You don’t need to have it in a greenhouse like I do just be sure if yours is outside it is in a bright yet shaded area.
I have also used the clear plastic tubs from Wal-Mart, the Sterlite brand.
When & How to Take Lilac Cuttings
Choose new growth just after the Lilacs is finished blooming. Bloom time varies by your growing season. For me, the Lilacs bloom in May so they are done in early June.
Cut a branch about 8 to 12 inches long.
Take plenty of cuttings, there is about a 50/50 success rate so the more you try to start the more chance of success.
How to Prepare Lilac Cuttings
I haul them all to my potting bench and begin.
If the cutting is 8 inches I leave it that long, if it is 12 inches I cut it in half.
Strip most of the leaves from the cutting.
Coat the ends into the rooting medium or cloning Gel. I like the Olivias but have switched to this one, Hormex 8. It is a bit stronger for semi-hardwood cuttings.
I use a small paint brush to cover the length of stem that will be under the growing medium.
note: you see I have put the stem into the bottle of the gel, this is NOT recommended. It can cause contamination. Just use the paint brush to put it on your cutting.
Below you can see nodes on the stem, that is where roots begin and you want a good portion of nodes below the soil line. You want to try and get at least 3 nodes under the soil line.
You may have noted some of these are also rose cuttings. I like to fill up my box when I am doing cuttings.
Once they are all dipped in the cloning gel or powder sink them down into the potting soil mixture. First use a dauber (a pencil works well) to create a hole to slide the cuttings down into the soil without removing the cloning gel.
I place them far enough apart they do not touch each other and away from the edges so they won’t touch the cover.
Some like to remove more of the leaves, as they are where fungus can grow more easily. I left them on so you could see them better in the photos.
After placing the cuttings in the box or crate I carefully place the cover over them.
Note there is s space around the fish tank where potting soil shows. That is how to water without lifting the tank. You want to keep the soil moist but not too wet. You shouldn’t need to water often. The tank cover will keep the soil moist for long periods of time.
Put something under the tank edge to prop it up half an inch or so for air flow. I use a small flat stone, nothing fancy.
If using a clear plastic tote you can drill a few holes in it. If your cuttings are not very long this type of humidity dome works well too.
How long for Lilacs to Root?
You should have roots in one to two months. You can leave newly rooted cuttings in place to develop further or you can pot up into individual pots to grow on. I let mine grow in pots until firmly established and hardy enough to take the rigors of garden life.
How long before Lilac cuttings will bloom?
Lilacs can take three years or more to bloom from cuttings. Want faster bloom then visit How to Propagate Lilacs from Suckers and get a larger plant faster!
Before you know it you will be picking beautiful bouquets like this one.
And create heavenly scented displays for your home.
Need tips and tricks for growing and caring for your lilacs, How to Grow Lilacs.
Just one more note, I credit my chickens and their leavings (doo) with a lot of my success in gardening, great soil builder. That being said if you would like to get into chicken keeping here is a great resource on it: Fresh Eggs Daily, Raising Happy Chickens Naturally.