The Q&A Archives: air rooting/ grafting

Question: I want like to graft a lilac tree and would like your advice in doing this.
I will be taking this plant to an island in the Pacific. Any advice?

Answer: The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) will grow in Guam, but may not bloom faithfully for you. Lilacs need a pronounced period of cold weather to bloom best, and yours is a mild winter area. You might try growing one of the Descanso Hybrids that have been developed to perform especially well in warm winter areas such as Southern California and Hawaii. "Lavender Lady", "Chiffon", and "Blue Skies" would all be good bets for your garden. Lilacs prefer to grow in full sunshine, in average soil, with regular watering during spring and summer. Once established, lilacs grow lush and full and may need annual pruning to keep them within bounds. Prune after flowering to allow the development of buds for next year's bloom. Lilacs are reliable shrubs in the landscape and can be trained into a tree shape by removing all but one main stem, and keeping the new shoots rubbed out before they become branches. Sometimes lilacs can be rooted by stem cuttings but it is much easier to simply dig up one of the many suckers that emerge from the root system. Digging up a sucker, roots and all will ensure you will have a happy healthy plant. Or you can try rooting a stem cutting. Take a semi hardened 6" stem, remove the lower leaves and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Pot up in a container filled with moist potting soil and set in a shady area of the garden. With any luck the cutting will root in 4-6 weeks. Best wishes with your project!

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