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How to Split a Lilac Bush or Propagate Lilacs

Do You Wish You Had More Lilac Bushes To Enjoy?

This is how my mama taught me how to split a Lilac Bush to spread around your property or to share with friends. The good news is it’s free—this easy way to propagate lilacs works almost every time.

How to Split a Lilac Bush so you can have an abundance of these beautiful blooms every Spring.

You’re probably wondering about this departure from my usual DIY decorating posts, especially after I proclaimed not to have a green thumb and even posted about The Best Way to Save a Faux Ficus Tree.

Because we’ve been unable to buy new plants during this time, I’ve been splitting plants and transplanting them around my yard, just like my mama taught me.

Although I don’t know the names of most of the plants, if I like them, it gets split and transplanted. It dawned on me that I might have something to share with other gardening wanna-bes.

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I Need More Lilac’s

Because of the gorgeous spring blooms, the wonderful aroma, and the beautiful arrangements you can make, I needed more of these lovely plants in my yard. Here is my tried and true method to split and transplant a healthy new lilac bush.

Lilac bushes are easy to split to spread bushes around your home.

Here is one gathering of my lilacs

Lilac Blooms make such a great arrangement and make the house smell wonderful.  Using this simple technique to split your plants, you will have plenty of blooms to spread around your home.

They make the house smell wonderful and are perfect to pair with other Spring Decor like this cow print “Faith”

Lilac Bush ready to be split by using a simple technique to create a new bush.

Today the lilacs are no longer blooming, so this is a great time to split the plant and start a whole new bush. Now would also be a good time to trim or prune the lilac bush to keep it small for this area.

All you need is a rock to propagate lilacs.

Yes, that’s all you need. First, you want to identify a low-lying branch and see where it will lay on the ground without breaking it from the Mother Plant.

To ensure a good root, you should disturb the ground beneath the limb with a gardening tool. Just loosen up the soil, lay your branch against the ground, and lay a rock on top to hold it in place.

Lilac bush in process of being split to create a new plant by laying a rock on one branch to propagate lilacs

Here is what my rock from last spring looks like today.

OK, I have a confession

Although this is such a simple method to almost always guarantee a new healthy bush, the process isn’t quick. You must leave the rock on the branch for at least six months. Mine has been on my branch for one year.

You might get lucky when you begin to look for a low-lying branch; you may find one that has already been rooted to the ground.

When a lilac stem propagates without help, it’s time for a happy dance.

Also, lilac bushes can produce suckers. These usually grow close to the Mother Plants root. Although these provide immediate results, they are more fragile and harder to dig than one rooted a distance from the original root.

Time to Split Your lilac Bush

Now that it’s been six months, it’s time to split your lilac bush. Wow, that went fast! LOL

First, remove the rock and make sure your branch has rooted to the ground or you have propagated your lilac. You want to dig up your new lilac bush with a sharp shovel. Dig approx. 4-5 inches around the rooted area’s outer edges and bring up as much soil as possible with the propagated lilac bush.

Use your pruning shears and cut the branch away from the mother plant, as close to ground level as possible.

This will allow the Mother Plant to reshape; you’ll never know you removed a cutting.

How to Split a lilac bush.  Here are several shoots from this method.

Wow, look at what I was able to dig up. I had left mine under the rock for one year, resulting in multiple shoots.

Now you are ready to transplant

If you have your perfect spot, you will want to transplant immediately.

  • Dig a hole about the diameter of a gallon potting container or larger
  • Fill with potting soil about half full
  • Place your split lilac bush into the soil, keeping all the roots downward.
  • If you soil fell away from the roots, add that original soil next to the roots.
  • Water your plant thoroughly.
  • Now fill the hole completely with potting soil and be sure the plant is stable.
  • Apply mulch over the top.

I’m not ready to plant!

If you are not ready to plant your new lilac bush, here are the steps to follow so your new plant will live until you can get it in the ground.

One reason for splitting the lilac bush was to have new plants around my greenhouse, which is under construction. I decided to place all my split plants in containers. Also, a friend might get a surprise gift because I have so many unexpected plants.

Step by Step instructions for potting your new lilac bush if you're not ready to put into the ground yet. Potting propagated lilacs
  • First fill a container that will hold your root approx. 1/2 full of fresh potting soil.
  • Second, add some of the original soil that fell away from the root.
  • Third, water your new lilac bush.
  • Fourth, fill the rest of the container with fresh potting soil and make sure your new lilac bush is firm in the container.
Four new propagated lilac bushes as a result of the splitting technique I use to multiply my lilac bushes.

This is a DIY Post!!!

It just dawned on me that this is a DIY post, after all. Do you see how many new lilac bushes I have? This post is all about how to DIY plants for those who wish they could garden. LOL

But seriously, after close examination, I believe one of the shoots was a volunteer sucker. Because it was unattached to the branch that had been placed under the rock, it most likely came up volunteer.

Always be sure to look for these volunteer suckers as well. These may be more difficult to dig if they are close to the plant. They are also less likely to survive if damaged during the digging process, so be gentle.

Lilac bush that was split using this simple technique and transplanted to another part of my yard

Here is a split lilac bush that was transplanted last year using this method of splitting the plant. Because it was a new plant this spring, there was only one bloom. Oh, well, I’m still proud of it.


This blog post is in no way a gardening guide. My Mom taught me these methods of splitting plants, which has worked well for me over the years. Different climates and soil may have completely different results. This blog is for entertainment purposes as I share what works for me. If you decide to try it, what have you got to lose? Just put a rock on it and see what happens.

Lilacs in a basket from the mother plant that I used to split into more lilac bushes.  Propagate Lilacs for multiple blooms each spring

I’m looking forward to many lilac arrangements next Spring.

Here is my 2021 harvest, and I’m sharing more lilac details, including how to arrange them in a basket. See 3 Reasons You Need A Lilac Bush. You may also enjoy the Easy Hydrangea Basket tutorial.

Propagate Lilacs for a basket full each spring

As you can see, we finished our DIY Greenhouse, and the lilacs look wonderful here. To see more about the greenhouse, check out How to Build a DIY Greenhouse.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Although this is a departure from my usual decorating and DIY posts, I hope you enjoyed it.

Please let me know if you try this technique of splitting a lilac bush. Feel free to ask me any questions, and as always, your comments are greatly appreciated.

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Monday 14th of November 2022

This sounds so easy. I'm going to try this out. I have a "Beauty of Moscow" lilac that starts with pink buds that turn white upon blooming and the fragrance is noticeable easily 15 feet away from the bush! I've had this bush for 15 years and have never seen or found one like it before.


Tuesday 15th of November 2022

Vicky, I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday Meanderings | Life at Bella Terra

Saturday 7th of May 2022

[…] Oh how I wish lilacs would grow here, however, they do not. But if you are lucky to live in an area with lilacs blooming now, check out my friend, Rachel, from The Pond’s Farmhouse tips on splitting lilac bushes. It only takes a rock and Rachel is amazing. See her post here. […]


Saturday 7th of May 2022

Thanks so much for sharing Mary.


Saturday 7th of May 2022

Thanks so much for sharing this Mary.

Mary from Life at Bella Terra

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Rachel, I have such fond memories of lilacs growing up in Connecticut. Unfortunately, it hurts my heart to say this but they do not grow in Phoenix. Groan. I can almost smell your lilacs through your photos. Great post and makes me yearn for this luscious plant.


Thursday 5th of May 2022

Mary, I just wish they lasted longer. thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday 4th of May 2022

One of my faves! I need to plant more here.


Wednesday 4th of May 2022

They are great!


Sunday 10th of May 2020

Personality quiz results. . A-2 and B-4

Sunday 10th of May 2020

Edna, I knew you would be Traditional but I'm a little surprised that the Modern added in. Thank you so much for subscribing. Rachel