The Q&A Archives: Lilac no bloom

Question: Two years ago, when my lilac was way too tall and leggy, I asked a local nursery what to do. They said go ahead and prune it back (early fall). I pruned all growth to not more than 6 feet and all dead and suckers, too. Not only did I not get blooms that spring, but this spring only one(!). The bush is marvelously shaped and full of foilage. At 7-8 foot tall it is very impressive for a green plant. It gets plenty of sun. Can you help me?

Answer: What the nursery person should have told you is that lilacs develop flower buds in the summer for the next year's bloom. When you pruned, you cut off all of the buds. Last summer it should have developed buds for this year's bloom, and it may have, but lilacs need a pronounced winter chill to trigger lots of blooms. If your winter was mild, the buds just didn't get the message that it was time to bloom. I'll bet that it will bloom magnificently next spring, so just be a little more patient!

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