The Q&A Archives: pruning lilac

Question: Hello,
I realize that my question was asked, and answered, hundreds times, but I am still very unsure how to prune my lilacs. As everybody else, I do not want to loose the branches which will flower next year but, in the mean time, the bushes get out of control with the new top growth. I wonder if the lilac can be pruned by cutting the top of the bush in order to keep it more like a bush than a tree. How selectiv this should be?
Please help me to make the right cut!
Thank you,

Answer: Lilacs are large plants, so there is no way to keep it really small over time. If it is way too big for the spot where it is planted you might want to replace it with something else. Having said that, every year you can remove some of the oldest stems or trunks by cutting them off at ground level, cut them off very short. Also remove any new shoots coming up from the ground that are smaller in diameter than a pencil. This will renew the plant on an ongoing basis and can help keep it a little shorter. If you need to prune back branches to try to control size, the only "safe" time to do that is right after it blooms. I hope this helps.

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