The Q&A Archives: Lilac tree/bush

Question: I have a lilac tree/bush that is to big and over grown can I cut it back and down? There are many little lilac starts around the base of the bush can I dig those up and replant them somewhere else? Thanks

Answer: Lilacs can become leggy if not pruned on an annual basis. Because lilacs develop next year's flower buds immediately after flowering finishes, the best time to prune is as soon as the flowers are spent. If you prune later in the summer, you may be pruning off next spring's flower display. If that doesn't matter to you, you can prune any time during the summer. You can prune your plant down by about one third: more than that and the plant will take quite a while to recover and may not bloom for a year or two. If you need to reduce the size by more than a third, plan on taking 2-3 years to prune it back to the right size. Lilac's typically develop suckers at the base. It is the plant's way of colonizing an area. You can cut away the suckers or you can try to dig them up and replant them. The suckers are growing from the roots of your plant so you will need to dig down and sever part of the root. As long as each sucker has some roots and some top growth when they are transplanted, they will grow into new lilac bushes. Best wishes with yours!

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