Lilacs as Bonsai


Common Names: Lilac

 Botanical & Ecological Characteristics:

Arboriculture & Urban Forestry: Tree Lilac – Syringa reticulata

Colorado State University: Lilacs

Colorado State University: Renewing Lilacs

Fine Gardening:  Genus Syringa (Lilac)

International Lilac Society: Lilacs

Missouri Botanical Garden: Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Lilacs 

Poetry Foundation: Lilacs

University of Nebraska: Lilacs

United States Department of Agriculture:  Common Lilac, LILAC Syringa Vulgaris L., Syringa reticulata (Blume) Japanese tree lilac

United States Forest Department: Lilacs

Utah State University: Tree Borers  – Lilac Tree Borer

Virginia Cooperative Extension: Lilac/Ash Borers

Wikipedia: Tree Profile

Washington State University: Lilacs

Bonsai Information:

  Lilacs make great Bonsai, the trick is to find a lilac with a big enough trunk to make it worth while. Lilacs generally have large leaves and large flowers so the finished tree usually will be on the large side. The following lilac has smaller leaves and flowers and makes a medium size Bonsai. Syringa patula – Miss Kim The best place to find lilacs for Bonsai are at demolition sites, back yards and garden centers. If you take your time and look around you will eventually find a nice lilac at a garden center.

I have purchased several very large balled and burlaped Lilacs from a local nursery. They were so big that a forklift was used to place them in the back of my old truck. This was in the spring before they leafed out. I chopped the tops back and then proceeded to bare root them right in the back of the truck. They root balls were much to large to get of the truck by yourself. Couple of hours latter you could pick the whole tree up with one hand. The roots were then chopped back. It seems that there were a lot of very fine feeder roots around the trunk on both of them which is what we want. These were all kept. The two trees were put into a plastic 15″ Anderson pot. Soil mixture included more mushroom compost then I would normally use, based Water Pall’s experience. Both trees back budded all over the place. Trees were allowed to grow and I did remove buds on places I did want a branch. Both trees did fine most of the summer. One tree started dying towards late summer. Lost almost all of the upper branches by the end of the summer. Next spring the reason why, the tree had Lilac borers in it. I found them when I was remove the dead back and found there tunnels. Using a dental pick you could pick them out of the holes they had made. The tree is now recovering nicely. No borers on the other tree. I would recommend using a systemic insecticide on new Lilacs.  Both trees looking really good.

I have a Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’ that looks like a Cherry tree when not in leaf. The reddish bark is just incredible on it. But alas the Cherry like bark is maturing to rough bark and not quite as nice,but the branches are still way cool. Most of these lilacs are grown in a tree form. The one I found was more of a very low branched tree/shrub which is a lot better for Bonsai.

Bonsai 4 Me: Lilac Species Guide

Internet Bonsai Club:  Walter Pall Advice on Lilacs

Internet Bonsai Club: Walter Pall Advice on Lilacs II

Walter Pall: Lilacs,

Finished Trees:

Internet Bonsai Club: Syringa microphylla’

Please note: Walter Pall offers tips and advice on Lilacs in the comments section of each one of his galleries listed below. Be sure to check out the comments section at the bottom of each page.

Walter Pall: lilac for sale or trade, small lilacs, lilac #10, lilac #3, lilac #1, lilac #8, lilac #1, lilac #8, lilac coming nicely, new lilac again, little lilac got stumped, lilac clump,  fat lilac, Two lilacs in bloom, Two lilacs for sale or trade, lilac bonsai stumped – restart, big lilac, lilac after blooming, two lilacs, the powerful lilac, The mighty elegant lilac,

Progression Trees:

Internet Bonsai Club: Several Nice Trees

Syringa pubescens subsp. patula ‘Miss Kim’  New 04-18-2917


Bonsai Gestaltung eines Flieders (Syringa vulgaris) by Merlin  Video is German, Nice deadwood work.