I live in Wyoming and have very sandy soil. I would like to plant lilacs and need to know the best time to plant and how to care for them.
Hardiness Zone: 5a
Phyllis from Ft. Laramie, WY
You are in luck. Lilacs do very well in sandy, well-drained soil. Spring is the ideal time for planting bare-root lilacs, because this gives the shrubs plenty of time to develop new roots and store sufficient nutrients before winter. Container-grown lilacs (the way most people now buy them) can be planted all summer long, even as late as mid-October, as long as the ground has not frozen. Personally, I think it is still beneficial to plant them in the spring so they have a bit of time to settle in before winter.
Lilacs will grow in part shade, but they need full sun to flower. For the best show of flowers, they need to receive a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun each day. The more sun the better. When planting, place them in the ground at the same level they were growing in the nursery container. If you are planting more than one plant, space them far enough apart to account for their height and spread as they grow (this will vary somewhat according to the type your planting). Water them in well and provide them with a 2 or 3-inch layer of mulch, keeping the mulch about 6 inches away from the trunk of each plant.
Here is a link to a nursery in Casper that specializes in landscape plants suitable to Wyoming's climate. Under the category of Small Trees and Shrubs, they list some varieties and photos of lilacs-including the Cheyenne Early Lilac, which has been popular since the 1930s. This information might be helpful to you when you go to shop for lilacs locally.
Here is another excellent link to a bulletin put out some years ago by the USDA. The information is still relevant and explains in more detail how to plant and care for lilacs.
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This will tell you what you are asking. We live in OH and it's easy to transplant lilacs in the spring as long as there's enough undisturbed soil around the root system. and wet the soil around the plant after setting.
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