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How To Grow California Lilac [From Cuttings Or From Seed]?

Planning and growing a flower garden can sometimes require extra effort. Do you want to plant California lilac in your yard but have no idea where to start? How do you grow a California lilac from cuttings or even seeds?

We'll answer these questions and others throughout this article. Let's dive right in below!

For those wanting to grow a California lilac, this process will be slightly different for cuttings versus seeds.

If you have cuttings, you'll need to dip your cutting in rooting hormone and keep it in a warm, humid spot for a few weeks.

If you want to grow your lilac from seed, this will require you to imitate a forest fire. To do this, pour hot water over your seeds in the late winter.

Ideally, you want to let your seeds soak for 24 hours, dry them off, and then freeze them for three months to imitate winter. You can then plant them into the ground in the spring.

As we begin, we will cover all things California lilacs and discuss how to grow them properly. We're here to assist whether you're doing this by cuttings or seeds. With that said, let's get into this topic!

Ceanothus Victoria Californian Lilac Shrub filling the frame with shallow depth of field. - How To Grow California Lilac [From Cuttings Or From Seed]?

How Do You Grow A California Lilac?

Blooming purple Californian lilac flowers. Ceanothus thyrsiflorus blue flower in the garden. Copy space for text.

In general, you want to grow a California lilac from cuttings. Considering this flower can take years to grow, you want to find ways to speed the process up as much as possible.

Of course, you can also try growing a California lilac from seed, although this takes more preparation. As we said, you should imitate a forest fire and winter before putting your lilac seedlings in the soil.

That may not be for everyone. Again, you might be able to bypass these steps if the conditions outside are correct, but it can be hit or miss.

According to the pros, it's best to take healthy cuttings from an existing lilac in the summer or autumn and then plant those.

You also want to check if your California lilac is evergreen or not, as this can make a difference.

How Long Will It Take A California Lilac To Mature?

Close up of a bee on a Californian Lilac

You can usually expect a California lilac to mature between two and three years. Within this time, your plant won't typically flower, which can be a drawback for some gardeners.

As we mentioned, these flowers are pretty easy to propagate from cuttings, so we recommend following that method for replanting.

One interesting fact about California lilacs is that they aren't technically a true lilac in the genus Syringa, although they will produce similar blooms.

This species is also tricky to grow from seed, hence why most people take cuttings from existing flowers.

How Do You Grow A California Lilac From Cuttings?

Flowers at Kamakura

For anyone ready to propagate their current lilac, this won't be too hard. First, you want to find a healthy section of your California lilac and remove it using shears.

Once you have your cutting, dip it in a rooting hormone and let it sit somewhere humid (a propagator may help for evergreen varieties).

Furthermore, evergreen California lilacs need a growing season to properly root before you can plant them, so that's something to keep in mind.

In contrast, if you have a deciduous California lilac, you might be able to let it root for a few weeks-month and then plant it in the soil.

Specifically, many experts claim that deciduous lilacs need 4-6 weeks to root after you dip them in the rooting hormone, so either way, there's a waiting period.

You should also wait to take cuttings from your California lilac until it's well-watered and the weather is moderate. Doing this will increase the chances of a successful plant.

Hormex Rooting Hormone Powder

This rooting hormone works for flowering plants, doesn't contain alcohol, preservatives, or dyes, helps prevent root rot and sagging, and comes in a .75-ounce container.

Follow this link to view it on Amazon.

Can You Root Lilac Cuttings In Water?

Although some plants may root in water near a window, lilacs don't always respond well to this. Generally, you want to keep your cuttings somewhere moist/humid for the duration of their rooting.

However, if you want to try the water method, we recommend placing healthy lilac cuttings into a clear or amber glass or jar with 1-2 inches of water inside.

The key here is not to oversaturate your cuttings. Even though this method can be beneficial, your California lilac doesn't need to be soaked for weeks.

So, the less water in your glass/jar, the better a healthy cutting will respond.

Furthermore, you don't need to place anything besides the stem of your cutting in the water. If your entire lilac is wet for too long, it will die.

Can You Plant Lilac Cuttings Directly In The Ground?

Ceanothus, or California Lilac as it is commonly known, is an evergreen or shrub or small tree. They flower as shown here in late spring or early summer. They are often called California Lilacs because the flowers of some varieties are similar to the Lilac Tree,and Ceanothus do originate from California. The flowers are most noted for the varieties which produce masses of deep blue flowers. But they also come with pink or white flowers. The variety here is Puget Blue.."

Yes, once your cutting has formed roots, you can place it directly into the ground outside. With that said, you'll want to make sure the weather is warm, and the skies are clear before doing this.

In addition, you want to dig a deep hole to sustain your cutting's root system.

When that is finished, place your California lilac into the ground and fill the hole with fresh soil. It's normal to see your plant go into a brief shock period, so give it about a week to adjust.

Remember your cuttings were out of the ground for weeks if not months, so this new environment will be a dramatic change.

How Long Before A Lilac Cutting Flowers In The Ground?

Once your lilac cutting establishes roots and begins to grow, it's now time to wait for flowers. As we said, California lilacs take upwards of three years to bloom, so expect the same for your cuttings.

Even if you removed a healthy section from a parent lilac, that doesn't mean it will automatically flower. Instead, you start from square one in terms of rooting, which can mean a long wait.

According to The Morning Call, some lilacs take seven years to start flowering routinely, so patience will come into play with this species.

Of course, everyone will be different, so as long as you give your flowers good growing conditions, they might surprise you.

What Is The Best Month To Plant Lilac Seeds And Cuttings?

When it comes to the best time of year for planting lilacs, you want to do this in the fall, just before the ground freezes. Especially for seeds, you need to have them in the ground before winter, allowing them to settle before spring.

Remember, you might even need to replicate a forest fire using hot water on your California lilac seeds, so this can take some time.

On top of that, if you have cuttings, we recommend planting them in the spring. The difference between seeds and cuttings is that seeds can handle the cold.

On the other hand, lilac cuttings don't want to be in the cold their first few months, so a springtime planting tends to be best.

According to Cornell University, you want to transplant lilacs in the spring if you live somewhere with harsh winters. If you're somewhere moderate, you will be fine to plant them in the fall.

Do Lilacs Spread?

Yes! One of the many benefits of lilacs is that they self-seed. Although this won't always yield amazing results, you can depend on your plant to disperse its seeds nearby.

This process is also known as "ballistichory" or "ballistic dispersal," which means your lilac will open its seed pods and fling the seeds around the plant.

So, if you don't want to spend time planting and waiting for seeds or cuttings to grow, you can sit back and let mother nature work her magic.

In addition, lilacs also use suckers to repopulate. A single lilac sucker can become an entirely new bush, so this can quickly become an issue depending on the size of your yard.

However, lilacs aren't generally fast-growing, so you should be able to catch any overpopulation fairly quickly.

How Big Will A California Lilac Get?

Blue flowers of a Californian Lilac bush hanging over a garden wall.

One of the most surprising parts about the California lilac is its potential size. In general, your plant can reach heights of over ten feet, which is incredible for a flower.

On the other hand, some California lilacs follow more of a ground-cover growing pattern, so they won't be very tall. These smaller versions won't usually exceed six inches tall.

Many gardeners train their California lilacs using a trellis or post, which helps encourage them to grow tall.

The conditions in your garden can also affect the mature size of your lilac. For example, if your plant is in the shade and doesn't get many nutrients, it could stay at around 5-6 feet.

In contrast, a California lilac in the full sun (or partial shade) will get more nutrients from the light and grow ten or more feet when mature.

To Finish It Up

Whether you want to grow a California lilac from seed or cuttings, it's always good to know the proper steps. From what we found, you want to take your cutting from a healthy parent lilac, dip it in rooting hormone, and let it sit for a few weeks-months.

For seeds, you need to imitate a forest fire by pouring hot water on them and then either freezing them or planting them before winter.

Growing California lilacs can be lengthy, so remember to have patience.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related plant posts below!

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