Gather and Develop Lilac Seeds in 7 Easy Steps


In the event you’ve ever been driving or strolling round within the late spring and caught a whiff of candy, floral fragrance within the air, you’re in all probability smelling the blooms of a close-by lilac bush. Lilacs are one of many first issues in our space of New England and produce a robust scent to the spring air. Their blooms don’t final very lengthy, so we all the time savor the romantic purple and white flowers and their aroma whereas in bloom and sit up for seeing and smelling them the next yr. 

I do know a number of individuals who journey round gathering recent lilac petals to protect them into cocktail ice cubes, easy syrups, soaps, and bathtub salts to allow them to take pleasure in them just a bit whereas longer. 

In the event you’re trying to create a precise clone of a lilac bush, you’ll must dig up and plant a sucker. Nonetheless, if you wish to have some enjoyable and uncover a probably new hybrid model of the lilac bush or create inventory for grafting, beginning them from seed is for you. It’s like taking part in the lilac lottery, and it’s possible you’ll simply hit the jackpot and discover a fabulous new cultivar. Let’s dive into methods to acquire and develop lilac seeds

Gather Seed Pods

A close-up of delicate brown lilac seed pods clustered on a twig, forming a stunning contrast against the branch's woody texture. The blurred backdrop features a vibrant mix of yellow and brown leaves.
Harvest seed pods after petals wither, avoiding branches with new buds to protect subsequent season’s blooms.

Though planting seeds won’t end in a clone of the mom lilac bush, it’s enjoyable to mess around and see what you would possibly get. It is a good challenge if you happen to’re a affected person gardener with additional house to mess around with and who likes a great problem. Simply remember to sow new seeds or transplant seedlings 10-15 toes from present lilac bushes so that they have sufficient house and entry to correct vitamins. 

After lilac bushes bloom, discover seed pods the place every flower was situated (so long as the flower was efficiently pollinated). The seed pods are flat and football-shaped with a pointed finish. Some crops have fairly seed pods that may function ornamentals, however lilacs will not be considered one of these crops. Because the pods dry, they flip from inexperienced to medium brown, getting large and unattractive. 

Gather pods after the petals have withered and fallen from the bush in late summer time or late winter. They’ll start to crack open to disclose their seeds as soon as totally mature, so preserve your eye on them and choose them at peak harvest time. They need to appear to be miniature Venus fly traps when their “mouths” open up.

You may harvest the entire flower head, however an essential factor to notice earlier than gathering the pods is that lilacs produce subsequent yr’s buds this yr. In the event you’re harvesting in late summer time or fall, don’t minimize any branches off which have a brand new, inexperienced bud on them. This can lower subsequent season’s blooms.

Take away Seeds

Several brown lilac seeds scattered across a clean white table, their glossy surfaces catching the light. Each seed rests gracefully, showcasing its intricate texture against the smooth backdrop, evoking nature's delicate beauty.
Simply take away the seeds by gently tugging them out along with your fingers.

Retailer seed pods till you’re able to course of them, or take away the seeds immediately. If the pods are totally mature, the seeds inside are dry and might hand around in there for a bit. Simply preserve them in a bowl or container to catch any fallen seeds, because the pods will proceed to open up as they dry out. 

Every pod will comprise one to 4 seeds, with one to 2 being the typical. The seeds are papery, brown, and about 0.5-0.75 cm lengthy with pointed ends. As soon as the pod is open, seeds are straightforward to take away. Simply gently tug them out along with your fingers. In case your fingers are too giant to seize the top of the seeds, use a pair of tweezers to take away them. 

Storing Seeds

A close-up reveals harvested lilac seeds, nestled within their papery casings. Each seed is delicately formed, resembling miniature, pale ovals. The textured surface of the casings appears finely ribbed, protecting the tender seeds within.
Retailer harvested seeds in a cool, dry spot to forestall mould earlier than later planting.

In the event you don’t plan on sowing seeds you harvested immediately, maintain off on cold-stratifying them. Moderately, retailer them in a cool, dry place in a paper bag or envelope. The paper will wick away any moisture and preserve them from molding. 

Since a part of chilly stratification entails a moisture part, combine in a little bit of moistened vermiculite or peat moss with the seeds in an hermetic container or plastic baggie and put them in your fridge for 40-60 days earlier than sowing. This can soften the outer shell and put together them for sowing. 

Chilly-Stratify Seeds

Brown-tinged lilac tree branch, showcasing its changing foliage in late autumn. The leaves, once vibrant, now wear hues of chestnut and russet. Snow gently blankets the branches, a serene contrast against the fading foliage.
Seeds harvested in late summer time require handbook chilly stratification for correct germination.

Earlier, I discussed that seeds could be harvested within the late summer time or late winter. The distinction impacts how the seeds can be chilly stratified, a course of they require to correctly germinate.

Chilly-stratification is the method of eradicating a seed’s dormancy after a interval of chilly and moist climate. Seeds unnoticed in nature undergo this naturally when left on a tree, plant, or bush or have been blown off and landed someplace on the forest ground or in your backyard.

They go dormant by way of the winter months, protected by backyard particles, leaves, and, in some areas, snow. When the snow melts and the bottom softens, the outer shell of the seed softens as nature offers it the sign that spring has arrived and it’s time to sprout

When harvesting seeds in late winter, they’ll have been cold-stratified naturally over the winter and could be sown immediately. Nonetheless, if you happen to acquire them in the summertime after the bush has bloomed, you’ll have to do that manually. 

Guide Stratification

A close-up of a hand delicately holding a transparent plastic bottle. The bottle cradles rich, dark soil where tender lilac seedlings stretch and reach for the light, a miniature world taking shape within the container.
Storing summer-harvested seeds until late fall for direct planting permits managed pure chilly stratification.

In the event you harvest seeds in late summer time, you need to chilly deal with them to simulate the winter climate they’d naturally obtain if that they had been left exterior. To do that

  • Soak seeds for twenty-four hours. Lilac seeds are laborious, and this can soften them up. 
  • Use high-quality, well-draining, natural potting combine. Combine in some compost when you’ve got it, and moisten the combination earlier than sowing seeds. 
  • Sow seeds ¼ inch deep in cell trays or small pots, then cowl them with extra soil. 
  • Mist gently, then cowl with a layer of plastic. 
  • Retailer trays or containers in a fridge for about two months or a dry place away from critters that’s between 36-40°F (2-4°C). 

You may merely save your summer-harvested seeds till the late fall and plant them immediately within the floor to permit nature to do its factor. Alternatively, you possibly can observe the winter sowing technique by sowing them in containers and leaving them exterior by way of the winter months. This can enable them to naturally chilly stratify, however you’ll have a little bit extra management than you may need if the seeds had been planted within the backyard floor.

Planting Seeds

Rows of lime green plastic pots neatly arranged on a sunlit white windowsill.
Within each pot, delicate lilac seedlings emerge, their tender leaves unfolding in the warm glow, promising the beauty of future blossoms.
Seeds stratified in winter by way of varied strategies will germinate when spring arrives.

How your seeds are stratified will decide when you need to plant them. In the event you’ve winter sown in milk jugs or chilly stratified them in cell trays in your fridge over the winter, your seeds are already sown! As soon as spring has sprung or they’re faraway from the fridge, they’ll obtain the sign to germinate and be on their method

If in case you have saved your seeds with moistened vermiculite to chilly stratify them, it’s time to take them out, brush them off, and sow them. To begin the “old-school” method indoors, sow them in late winter for greatest success. 

Sow Seeds: 

A close-up of a black seed tray filled with rich, dark soil, glistening with moisture. Water droplets cling to the surface, catching and refracting the ambient light, creating a mesmerizing play of reflections in the dim environment.
To sow seeds, start by filling a cell tray with well-draining, high-quality soil.
  • Fill a cell tray with moistened, good-quality, well-draining soil. 
  • Sow one per cell about ¼ inch deep and canopy them calmly with extra soil. 
  • Gently tamp it down by dropping the tray a number of inches off your working floor.
  • Water the tray calmly and place it on a warmth mat at about 70-75°F (21-24°C) till a little bit over half the seeds have germinated. Then, take away them from warmth and place them underneath synthetic lights or on a heat greenhouse bench within the solar. Don’t be alarmed if all of the seeds aren’t germinated concurrently. Some could take a number of weeks and even months. 
  • Maintain the soil moist. 
  • Step them up as wanted to bigger containers. 
  • Harden off correctly if seeds had been began indoors or in a greenhouse. 
  • Permit these infants to develop for a complete season and transplant them out the next spring. 

Transplanting

Hand gently places a young lilac seedling into a spacious white pot, promoting growth. The soil within the container appears rich and dark, providing a nurturing environment for the new addition. Another flourishing plant thrives alongside the seedling.
Guarantee robust and wholesome root programs on your potted seedlings earlier than transplanting.

In the event you’ve chosen to sow your seeds in pots, you’ll quickly have wholesome seedlings. Be certain the foundation system is robust and wholesome earlier than deciding to transplant. You may both transplant them within the late fall or early spring. 

When transplanting within the fall, give them about 30 days to ascertain wholesome roots and turn into a little bit established earlier than the primary frost. If transplanting within the spring, accomplish that earlier than the warmth of summer time comes and earlier than it leafs out.

Dig a gap double the scale of the foundation ball and blend in some compost. Place the seedling within the gap and fill in round it with native soil, constructing it up if you happen to can; they’ll recognize the added peak. Tamp down and deeply water. Optionally, calmly fertilize with fish emulsion or kelp meal. 

Issues to bear in mind:

  • Select a spot that receives full solar for greatest outcomes.
  • Soil must be well-draining. If in case you have acidic soil, add a cup or so of lime on the base.
  • Mulch your new plant to assist suppress weeds and retain moisture.
  • Guarantee your plant has at the very least 10-15 toes on both aspect to bush out.
  • Don’t over-fertilize with nitrogen.
  • Lilacs desire to be a bit elevated, so if you happen to can hill up the spot, it might carry out higher.
  • Water at the very least as soon as per week till the soil is moist, extra throughout dry spells.
  • Lilacs are hardy in zones 3-8, with a number of extra hardy and heat-tolerant varieties.

Caring for Your Younger Lilac Bush

A young lilac sapling, adorned with delicate leaves, thrives amidst rich mulch, reaching for the sky with tender stems. Sunlight gently filters through the branches, casting a warm, nurturing glow upon the budding plant's green leaves.
Pruning lilacs initially fosters root development and encourages blooms by the third yr.

As soon as your seedlings are established, they’ll be rising very quickly, requiring low upkeep from you. Maintain the bottom of the plant mulched, away from particles, and weed-free, and fertilize at the very least as soon as a season. Water it weekly when there isn’t any rainfall for the primary yr and as wanted in the long run. 

Whereas pruning lilacs isn’t completely needed, doing so the primary few years will encourage the plant to give attention to root growth and new development. This can encourage blooms by the third yr. 

Be affected person and have enjoyable. In the event you’re pleased with the brand new bush you’ve created, dig up a sucker and plant it or take a softwood chopping to create one other of the identical!

Closing Ideas

Though rising lilac bushes from seed isn’t the most well-liked option to propagate them, it’s a enjoyable and economical option to uncover new cultivars and add new lilacs to your backyard. With a little bit persistence, you’ll take pleasure in these pretty scented flowers every spring for years to come back

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