The Q&A Archives: Lilacs - How They Bloom

Question: I have a lilac bush which is about 20 years old. It has beautiful green foliage, but in seven years it has not bloomed except for about twelve flowers last spring. This year it has not bloomed. I have tried pruning it, fertilizing it, talking to it, etc. etc. but to no avail. When is the proper time to prune it, and how can I help it bloom next spring?
Thank you very much!!!

Answer: The most common reasons for a lilac not to bloom are shade (surrounding trees have grown larger over the years and now shade the bush where it used to be in full sun all day) and pruning at the wrong time. The plants bloom on wood grown the previous year, so any pruning must be done in the spring immediately after the shrub blooms. Pruning in summer or fall or early spring will remove flower buds. Finally, take care you are not oversupplying the plant with nitrogen, this can cause excess foliage and fewer flowers.

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