The Q&A Archives: Lilacs

Question: I have two llacs I would like to transplant. They are too close to the house. I'd say they are about six feet tall. They have been cut back in the past. How big a root ball do I Take and how big a hole do I dig for the transplanting and what time of year do I do this? Thank you.

Answer: Winter, when you lilacs are dormant is the very best time to move them, but fall is the second best time. If you move them now (in spring), they may not flower this year. If flowering isn't important, move them now before the weather gets hot. You can expect most of the roots to be within the top 12"-18" of soil, concentrated mostly beneath the dripline (outermost ends of the branches). I'd take as much of the root system as possible to keep transplant shock to a minimum. Start digging at the dripline, as deeply as necessary to keep from severing too many roots. The new hole you dig should accommodate the roots without crowding. Try to plant as deeply as they were growing before - not too deep or too shallow. Be sure to water thoroughly after replanting to help settle the soil. Best wishes with your lilacs!

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