The Q&A Archives: Keeping Lilacs Tidy

Question: I have several lilacs in my yard, and each year they send up lots of shoots around their bases, and are getting kind of messy looking. Should I be pruning these off? Is there anything I can do to prevent them from forming?

Answer: Lilacs naturally sucker, or send up little runners or shoots. They do this as a method of self renewal. The recommended annual pruning includes removing any suckers smaller than a pencil by cutting them at the base. It also includes removing a portion of the oldest stems by cutting them at the base. This way the plant has a steady influx of vigorous new wood and will not become tall and gangly.

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