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How to Split a Lilac Bush or Propagate Lilacs

If you wish you had more lilac bushes, this post is for you. 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 wannabes.

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What Should You Want More Lilac Bushes?

I love having fresh lilacs each Spring, and I needed more of these lovely plants in my yard.

Here’s why you should also want more lilac bushes.

  • They have gorgeous Spring Blooms.
  • Lilacs smell wonderful.
  • Lilacs make beautiful floral arrangements by themselves and mixed with other flowers.
  • They are easy to grow.

Here is my tried and true method to split and transplant a healthy new lilac bush.

Here is one gathering of my lilacs which filled the outdoor kitchen sink.

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

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

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.

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

Large lilac bush with no blooms.

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 lie 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.

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

Place a rock on a low branch of lilac bush to propagate.

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 already 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.

Lilac Bush split.

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 many unexpected plants.

Split Lilac Bushes transplanted into pots.
  • 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.
Split Lilac Bushes transplanted into pots.

This Is A DIY Post!!!

It just dawned on me that this is a DIY post.

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 digging, so be gentle.

Here is a split lilac bush that was transplanted the previous year using this plant-splitting method.

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

Because it was a new plant this spring, there was only one bloom. Oh, well, I was still proud of it.

Here’s what it looks like this Spring. Can you see my happy dance?

lilac bush with fresh blooms to be gathered for a floral arrangement.


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 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 lovely 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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Tuesday 7th of May 2024

So much great information!!! I hope to try this since I have a wonderful mature lilac. :) Blessings


Tuesday 7th of May 2024

Susan, Good luck. It should work beautifully.


Friday 5th of May 2023

This method also works with hydrangeas! I'm lucky my lilac is an old variety that spreads seeds and creates lots of new baby bushes. Some people may find that annoying, but I never do. I just dig them up and move them or give them away. There's always someone who will take a free lilac bush!


Sunday 7th of May 2023

Kyra Yes, I agree. I love spreading the lilacs around.


Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

I was just wondering how you keep your cut lilacs fresh in your home. Whenever I make an arrangement for my kitchen, the flowers wilt in a days time.


Friday 5th of May 2023

Cheryl, I just put the in water immediately and they last about 5-7 days.


Monday 1st of May 2023

This is amazing! I had no idea that you could propagate like this. Great idea.


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Renae, It works great.


Monday 1st of May 2023

Rachel this is exactly the way my granny taught me to split bush plants. Don’t get crazy! I’m old😂 but my poor momma could never get the hang of splitting a plant. So it was my granny who led me through the exhausting path of Waiting for my new babies and Lilacs are my most favorite. ❤️ ♥️


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Shirley, It's a tried and true method.