Lilac Envy

Last week we visited my in-laws in NC, and found my mother-in-law’s beauty of a lilac specimen full of blossoms. One big happy lilac bush for sure. I want it. I want many. I have lilac envy.


If I lived close enough, her lilac would somehow mysteriously become bare of all fragrant blossoms in the night.


I’ve been pining for peonies and now I’m adding lilacs to the list. Lovely lilac lined plans are churning away. I’m looking into it. This is what I’ve found so far…
Lilacs like:

  • well drained soil, with pH of 6.0-7.0
  • full sun
  • grows most favorable in USDA plant hardiness zones 3-7

For some reason I’ve always thought that lilacs were difficult to grow, but after some light reading it doesn’t seem so. It sounds like it takes a few years to get them established, but after that, they are hardy and flourish under the right conditions. So, now to find the spot, and prepare it for lilacs come fall. And maybe some peonies too.

I stumbled across this poem called “Stealing Lilacs” by Alice N. Persons. Thought you may enjoy it. I did.

Do you grow lilacs or another lovely flowering bush?

Hope you’re enjoying spring!

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  1. 1

    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    I have lilac envy too. I think they’re like candy to the deer, so I haven’t even thought of planting them. But they sure are gorgeous.

  2. 3


    I can’t wait for the lilacs to bloom. I can almost smell their sweet, wonderful fragrance looking at your photos. Beautiful!

  3. 5

    Dana says

    I think the problems with lilacs, at least in their Washington state incarnation, is that they are not very attractive plants unless they are in bloom. We have one sad little plant in out backyard which is glorious for three weeks of the year and kind of pathetic looking for the rest of the year. I do have to say, my old old house had them all the way around the yard and the smell out there in May was one of the best things my nose has ever come across.

  4. 6


    I just cut down a lilac last fall…please don’t hate me. I never loved the flowers but they are so different from those you picture, much more of an open and not anywhere nearly as pretty specimen. That bush has been in the ground for 7-8 years, has yet to be as tall as the fence and due to the tendency, too often, for Colorado to have a late spring freeze; the odds of blooms are diminished. So it’s gone…something else will be taking it’s place.

    I love viburnum and mock orange and am now researching a bush to replace the lilac…yes, something that will not only get as big as the fence but even bigger and hide the neighbors storage shed!

  5. 7


    I love lilacs. Especially those huge ancient ones, blooming profusely. We had a large stand of them on the farm. And now we have 3 big ones on the corner of our lot. I’m hoping to take down a portion of fence and add a line of smaller sized bushes near my garden. Your photos are gorgeous!

  6. 10


    Our lilacs are out of control. In fact, we cut them back and pull shooters every year where they try to spread. If I could, I’d dig up a few and send them to you, but I doubt they’d make it all the way to SC. 😉

  7. 11


    I had a lilac bush in my yard. I was the only one in my neighborhood and everyone was so envious. When hurricane Floyd hit 10 years ago we lost so many trees and unfortunately my bush was lost too. I loved it.

  8. 12

    TidyMom says

    Amy the second this post opened on my screen I could SMELL the lilacs!!!
    Just GORGEOUS!!

  9. 14


    My favorite flower! Our driveway is lined with lilacs. Too bad it is still snowing in Utah. They aren’t close too blooming:( I can’t wait until they do!

  10. 15


    Gorgeous photos — the color is amazing. Living in the extreme southwest corner of the US, sadly these will not grow here. We’re in zone 9, and even though we’re right on the coast, you just don’t find them here. We do have California Lilacs, though. Pretty, but not the same. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. 19


    Oh, now I have lilac envy. The only flowering plants we have are camillias, wisteria and azaleas. None of these need great care. I’m longing for a pinkish-purple hydrangea like the one that grew at the front door of our first home. Ah.

  12. 20

    Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food says

    oh my goodness your photography is simply gorgeous!

    I really need to learn what my new camera can do! I love hydrangas :)

  13. 22

    Tara @ Feels Like Home says

    Gorgeous! Mine haven’t started to bloom yet; I was just out looking at them today.

  14. 23


    I live too far south to grow lilacs. ): I had to settle for Crape Myrtle trees in various shades of pink, red and white. I’ve also got a big Bottlebrush Tree, and a couple of Magnolia Trees. And they are all still growing despite my uncanny ability to kill even the sturdiest plant! Love your photos though – the colors are so sharp.

  15. 25


    We have a lilac bush given to us by Nick’s grandma. If I can grow a lilac, you most certainly can! Very low maintenance.
    Beautiful pictures, Amy!

  16. 26

    Julie says

    I LOVE lilacs! I grew up in east Tennessee. My dad had planted 3 lilac bushes next to our house. In the spring and summer the smell of the lilacs were amazing! I also loved how beautiful they were. I moved to Colorado 15 years ago and one of the things I miss the most are the lilacs at my parent’s home. I have moved a few times while living in Colorado, each time planting lilacs in my yard. I currantly only have one lilac bush but this spring I plan to line my fence roll with them. I need 17 of them!I can’t wait to plant them and watch them grow. It is a little piece of home that I can have in Colorado.

  17. 28

    Willow says

    I live in NC and grow lilacs… I love them.. they line my driveway. It did take a few years to get them established. I cannot seem to get them to last very long when cut however.. must look into that. I love having vases around the house and the fragrant smell.

    I also love and grow peonies. Another plant it takes time to establish.

    But currently beginning to bloom is my favorite love of all… lilies of the valley. Spring…mmmm.

  18. 29

    SMITH BITES says

    lilacs always take me back to my grandmas and to my little house on Ankeny Street . . . such a part of my childhood!!

  19. 31


    This is too funny! We JUST moved lilac bushes from my Mother’s house to mine. I can’t wait for them to spread and spread. I’d devote my entire yard to them if I could. That and hydrangeas.

  20. 33

    Misty says

    I have been the lilac thief in the poem only they were growing on the grounds of the State Capitol Building and I drove in late at night to do some *helpful* pruning! I am so desperate for my own lilacs that I am attempting to grow two Bloomerangs and a President Lincoln in zone 8. We’ll see how they grow… Thanks for sharing such lovely photos. Made my day!

  21. 34


    They are very beautiful. I have one at our country home….these were also my paternal grandmother’s favorite flower. We planted a lilac bush in memory of her!

    • 36



      I know where that is. My in-laws live in Chatham County in a small farming community. It’s a lovely place.

      ~ Amy

  22. 39

    ChicGeekess says

    I LOVE lilacs and all flowering bushes. My yard would be full of flowering shrubs, bushes and trees if I had a yard! Growing up I had a lilac bush outside my window. At night in the summer, I would have my window open and the breeze would bring the wonderful lilac scent into my room and I’d fall asleep smelling it, and wake up smelling it! You should plant some!

  23. 42

    Lynne A says

    Mmmmm, lilacs. And peonies are my most favorite! They’re such extravagantly fragrant big, beautiful blooms! I have a couple of peonies (inherited from Mrs. Henderson, who lived in this house for 40 years). Can you start them from a cutting? If so, you can have some! : )

  24. 44


    Amy, I came across your blog by way of the NPR website with the various salads. I just moved to Upstate SC from Virginia and have been having a grand time exploring the area. Was happy to see you are in Upstate as well.
    I love lilacs, were part of fond childhood memories with that lovely fragrance….just divine!
    I will enjoy reading your postings, be they recipes, vacations or gardening items.

  25. 45


    I have 3 beautiful lilac bushes! Unfortunately, Mother Nature felt the need to send a late frost and I lost all the blooms. I’ll have lilac envy with you this year!

  26. 46


    I LOVE lilac bushes! We had one in my yard growing up and I just love the smell! Still my favorite scent. It’s not quite the same, but Bath & Body Works has scents and candles which are a great substitute for not having your a beautiful flowering plant!

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