From the Garden with Laura Bullock ~ June – Deadheading Lilacs 101 and Birdbath Succulents

It’s time to deadhead spent blooms and consider a succulent garden.

Deadheading Lilacs 101

(Advice also applies to azaleas and rhododendrons)

Have you ever noticed that one year your lilacs are in full glorious bloom and the next year, not so much?  Very soon after lilacs are done blooming, they set the buds for next spring’s show.  So two things may be happening to lessening the lilac display:

  1. You aren’t trimming back your lilacs at all.
  2. You are trimming them back too late and are inadvertently cutting off next year’s blooms.

Deadhead or trim back the spent blooms, to the branch intersection point,  as soon as blooming is done.  You will have a few weeks of forgiveness if you can’t get to this right away, but don’t wait too long.  Deadheading will put lots of energy back into your shrub (instead of the spent seed heads) to give an abundant display next year, as well as create an overall aesthetically appealing plant.

Photo Credit:


Unique Summer Display using Succulents in a Bird Bath
Photo Credit: Laura Bullock


I have a thing for old birdbaths.  The texture, shape, patina…you name it, I love it! In the winter the ‘rule’ is to empty them of any standing water, remove the top bowl and lean it against the base (bowl side inward) to prevent it from freezing and cracking.  Of course I don’t always follow the rules so I inevitably end up with a cracked bowl that will no longer hold water. 

Succulents to the Rescue! 

Adding some soil and sun-loving succulents creates a beautiful low-maintenance display that is unique, pretty, and a nice structural addition to your garden.  I have not had any issues with perennial succulents surviving in these planters for many years, however, you could use succulents that are not winter-hardy to our zone 5 for a less expensive and equally gorgeous display. (I frequent Home Depot’s indoor greenhouse for fun colors and shapes.)

Ready, Set, Plant!

  1. Mix equal parts perlite and potting mix.
  2. Fill the birdbath about 3/4 full with your soil mixture.
  3. Plant your succulents.
  4. Fill in any gaps with the soil and top with rocks/gravel.
  5. Unless it rains, the only way for the plants to get water is from you. Check on your birdbath often and once the soil is dry to the touch, it’s time for a good watering.  Succulents don’t like to live in soggy soil, so be sure not to water too much (or for that matter, too little). 


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