Question: Help! I have lilacs with no flowers. The lilac bushes that I planted four years ago did not bloom last year and only had three buds the year before. They have doubled in size in that time and have had plenty of leaves, so I know they’re healthy, but they don’t bloom. Any idea why? — Jim D.
Why Are My Lilacs Not Blooming?
Answer: There are a few possible reasons why your lilacs aren’t blooming.
A late freeze. Lilacs form flowers on one-year-old plant growth. Here are some questions to ask yourself. You said you planted the bushes four years ago —were the plants a year old when you planted them? Did you have a late freeze last year? A late freeze may have prevented the flowers from blooming. If the lack of blooming was due to a late freeze, your lilac bush should be fine this year—as long as there isn’t another late freeze.
Lack of sunlight or pollinating insects. Does your lilac bush get adequate sunlight? Do bees and other pollinating insects frequent the area around the lilacs? Providing plenty of sunshine and an enticing area for pollinating insects can do wonders.
Pests. Pests may prevent blooms from occurring. Did you notice any pest damage on the tree?
By the process of elimination, you will most likely be able to solve the mystery of your non-blooming lilacs. The good news is that all of these reasons for non-blooming lilacs are easily corrected.
Update: By the process of elimination, Jim determined that his lilac bushes were not getting enough sunlight. Following Shelley’s advice, he moved them to a much sunnier location, and this year they have buds on almost every branch.
This post was first published in 2103 and has been updated.