Lilacs do take a little maintenance to keep them happy. They can also be kinda invasive if the sideshoots aren't kept under control. These are good to give to friends. To keep them bloom-happy, the old wood needs to be cut out, doing several every spring - like these...
This shrub is in it's third year here and already has 'old wood' which will be taken out after it's finished blooming. Old wood is knobby, knarly and tends to small splits. Simply cut it as close to the ground as you can. Mine is still blooming but after it's finished, I'll do an edit so you can see the difference it makes after it's groomed. If you don't want to spend a lot of time with grooming a lilac, simply plant it in the back forty and let it grow as it wants to! :)
Several years ago I got a start from our neighbour that is a double lilac, making the flower a really full cluster.
Due to neglect, and without passing any kind of judgment - she loves flowers and enjoys mine from her house - this is what it looks like today...
Lilacs do die from neglect but are simple and elegant to have and care for. I seldom take them in the house because they stay nice for such a short time. Splitting the ends of the stems helps but they still tend to wilt quickly. Either way, I love 'em and a new one is available that blooms all summer...hmmm - tempting!