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Container Gardens/Starting Lilacs in Pots


I just purchased 3 Common Lilac plants. What I received is little more than a biforcated woody twig with one tiny green leaf on each woody sprout. I live in zone 6 and these plants seem far too delicate to plant directly into the ground. If nothing else I fear they will serve as candy to all the creatures in my rural area. I would like to grow them in containers for the first 6-12 mos. What size containers, what medium (a reg. potting mix or a starter mix for seedlings), and what ammendments if any would you recommend? I realize this will be a temporary arrangement, but want to get them off to a good start. Also, I plan to keep the containers outdoors on my deck so the plants can acclimate to the weather easily, and be prepared to spend the winter outdoors this year, if they are mature enough.

Hi Kerin, Without seeing them, size, what container they are presently in, how much of a root system etc. it is difficult to direct you here, but Lilacs belong in the ground eventually , so I would leave them in the nursery container for now, until they gain some vigor and then move them into a one size bigger container with a Miracle-Grow potting mix; once they really take off, then would be the time to move them into the ground. They will be fine for the Spring and early Summer in containers, but for them to reach their maximum size, they either need to be put in the ground or a very large container, which is possible, but not plausible. Caring for them is pretty simple, they should get at least 6 hours of Sun and the soil allowed to dry out about one third of the way down before watering them well. The pre mixed fertilizer in the Miracle-Grow soil will suffice for several Months, then you should begin a regiment of Soluble feeding, either Miracle-Grow or Peters on a Monthly basis. Harden them with a regiment of 2-3 hours of partial Sun during the day,,then move them back in...for about a Month and then gradually move them out for longer periods , until the night temps stay above 50 degrees and then you can leave them out there with full exposure. As they grow,,,you can keep graduating them to larger containers....Good luck! and keep me apprised. Nick  

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nick mccann


I can give concise answers on growing plants in containers instead of the ground, why and how to plant them and how to maintain them.


Master Gardner in Charlotte County Florida,,with 10 years experience.

Master Gardner Association of Charlotte County, Florida

Associates Degree

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I am currently also an expert in the Tropical Plant dept.

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