The Q&A Archives: transplanting lilac shrub - how and when

Question: I would like to transplant what appears to be a Lilac Shrub. It is quite large.

How and When?



Answer: If you avoid the heat of summer and the frozen soils of winter, you can transplant most any time. I'd replant in the fall when temperatures are cooler and rainfall abundant. This will help your lilac re-establish its root systems without the stress of also trying to grow more leaves. Lilacs grow best in full sunshine and they'll flower best in full sun, too. Lilacs produce flower buds during the summer months which they open the following spring so don't prune your lilac from mid-summer on so you don't accidentally cut off potential flower buds. However, if yours is quite large, you may have to prune it back for ease in digging and transplanting. If so, you'll sacrifice some of the flowering for a season. Dig as much of the root mass out as possible. Start digging midway between the main stems or trunk and the longest branch. Expect most of the roots to be concentrated in the top 12" of soil. After transplanting your lilac be sure to water it well to help settle the soil and continue watering once each week until fall rains can take over for you. Best wishes with your landscape!

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