The Q&A Archives: Lilac's And Cold Temperatures

Question: Last spring I planted ten 2' Lilacs and they did fine all season. This year I believe they got frosted and only one
has leaves and the rest have brown buds. Are they dead or will they come back next year?

Answer: You can tell whether there's any hope for the lilac's by scraping back the bark to see if there's any green in the stems. Green indicates there's hope. Take your fingernail and gently scrape the bark off at the tip of the lilac. If it's brown under the bark, go down to the main stem, about a foot from the soil and scrape again. If it's brown, dig the plant up and look at the roots. If they're creamy white in the center (check by snapping one in half), the roots are alive and will probably send out new shoots. Replant the lilac and water it well. If the roots are brown and wilted, the plant is dead.

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