The Q&A Archives: Taking Lilac Cuttings

Question: What is the correct method for taking cuttings from a woody stemmed plant, specifically a lilac bush?

Answer: If you are trying to propagate the lilac, simple layering is, in my opinion, the easiest and most successful. In the fall, take a long, flexible limb (one that will easily reach the ground without breaking), and notch an area of the stem with a sharp knife. Dust the notch with a rooting stimulation hormone such as Rootone, dig out a small area of soil, placed notched area of the limb (dust side down) into the small hole, and cover with soil, securing the limb to ground either with a small stone or a floral pick. In the spring, separate this limb from the mother Lilac. There should be a new rootball at the area at which you made that original notch. If the lilac is on its own rootstock, rather than grafted onto a hardy or disease resistant base (scion), you can also propagate by digging up and replanting a "sucker" from the base of the plant. It will eventually grow into a full size specimen. Provide it with rich soil in full sun, and keep it well-watered until it gets established.

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