The Q&A Archives: I don't want to leave my lilacs behind!

Question: We are just finishing our moving process, and I just realized we are leaving behind the most gorgeous lilac bushes. One is absolutely huge, and therefore immovable, and the other has grown into and around an apple tree. Is there a way to take

Answer: There are a number of ways to propagate lilacs. The method you choose will depend upon what stage of growth your lilac is presently in. The easiest method is to take rooted shoots, which you may find at the base of your plant. Select shoots which are one to two feet tall. Dig deeply to extract as much of the root as possible. The main root will be attached to the mother plant. Use clippers to cut it from the main bush. Plant the new shoot in the location you have selected. Add compost to the soil before planting. Plant three to five shoots in each nursery pot. Water thoroughly. Like all transplants, the survival rate is higher if transplanted in cooler weather. Keep the soil around your transplants moist, but not water-logged.

Propagation by cuttings is another popular way. Cuttings should be taken when new green terminal shoots are produced. They should be four to six inches long, but should not be left out too long, because they will wilt easily and die. The cutting should be dipped in a rooting hormone like IBA (Indolebutyric acid) which aids the plant. The cuttings can be placed in a growing media with peat, vermiculite and perlite (standard potting soil). Each cutting should contain 2-3 nodes, which are the growing points where the leaves are attached. The leaves aid in rooting by producing carbohydrates for the rooting plant. The cuttings should never be allowed to dry out and should be kept moist at all times. The cutting should root within 3-6 weeks. Once roots appear, you can place the plant in your new landscape.

Best wishes with your move and with your lilacs!

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