Ask a Question forum: Need to move my lilacs...

Views: 168, Replies: 9 » Jump to the end
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Hibiscus Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Tomato Heads
Container Gardener
Image
mystlw
Jun 20, 2016 6:38 PM CST
A few years ago, my daughter gave me several small lilacs, in various colors, for Mother's Day. Having nowhere to really put them at the time, since they were small I planted them into 3 gallon buckets. They've done wonderfully, but apparently their roots have grown out of the holes in the bucket bottoms and into the ground.
How do I move them without damaging the roots? I would like to transplant a couple into permanent locations, but it doesn't seem like a great idea to just rip them up. I can't dig up the ground they are in, because then I still couldn't get them out of the buckets. Would it be better to sever the roots connecting the buckets to the ground with a sharp object?

I have no idea what to do.
My "I'd-pawn-a-grandchild-for-a-single-fan" list: Absolutely Fantastic, Ambar Sun, Undefinable.
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Tomato Heads Garden Photography
Image
robynanne
Jun 21, 2016 4:40 AM CST
Hello and oh boy do I understand! 12 years ago I was sent a lilac twig in the mail. A family member had died and this was a memorial to her but I was in no state to deal with it so I just put it outside in a flower bed to deal wit it later. Now it is hitting my garage roof line. Lol!

I don't think I even could move it now, I'd have to dig up a small one, establish it somewhere, and somehow figure out how to kill the existing one. They multiply via the roots so you may have more growing than just the bucket one.

I don't know for sure, but lilacs are a hardy bunch. I bet you could cut the bucket free and just plant the tree where you want. Water it really really well for 24 hours first, cut, replant right away, keep watered and give it root grow fertilizer for a few weeks, then watch really close to make sure it is watered well the rest of the summer. The alternative would be to cut the pot off around it and dig out the roots.

When I moved a tree, I was told to trim the branches because the roots would be getting severely cut down and it wouldn't be able to support all the branches, so I needed to balance it out by pruning the branches down too. I'm not sure if lilacs are the same way. They're pretty hard to kill though.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jun 21, 2016 10:48 AM CST
What do you mean by buckets?

Take a knife, utility or old butcher anything sharp and you can cut them off, even the big ones fairly easily.

I used to cut the large ones off of trees some times when landscaping as it saved time rather than try to loosed the root ball from the container.

Take a sand shovel and dig a circle around the bucket, as close as you wish to the depth of the shovel and use the shove to pry the bush out of the hole then cut the bucket length wise and replant.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 21, 2016 10:54 AM CST
You can use a reciprocating say to cut the buckets off down the side, then dig it out and have your hole already pre-dug for them to go into. Mix in some compost and mulch them well. Keep them watered well the first couple years until they take off. I personally have found lilacs to sulk after being moved. They need a location w pretty much full sun for maximum bloom.
If you feel that you tear up the roots too badly, you should cut some of the tops out to even out the top and the root ratio before replanting.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Jun 21, 2016 3:05 PM CST
Lilacs are pretty hardy. I started out with a little twig in a coffee can somewhere between 20 and 25 years ago. It did well, so we moved it (complete with coffee can) into a cut off 55 gal barrel. 16 years ago we scooped up that half barrel with a tractor and moved it from Oregon to Washington. About 10 years ago, we decided it needed to be moved again. Scooped up that same barrel with the same tractor and plopped it into a new spot. We had to build up the dirt around the new spot because the barrel kept trying to tip over. That barrel is still there, somewhere underneath the lilac, which is now at least 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Smiling
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Hibiscus Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Tomato Heads
Container Gardener
Image
mystlw
Jun 21, 2016 5:16 PM CST
RpR said:What do you mean by buckets?


Three-gallon pails. Bought 'em at the dollar store and drilled some holes in the bottom. They've worked really, better than I thought they would. :)

My "I'd-pawn-a-grandchild-for-a-single-fan" list: Absolutely Fantastic, Ambar Sun, Undefinable.
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Hibiscus Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Tomato Heads
Container Gardener
Image
mystlw
Jun 21, 2016 5:20 PM CST
robynanne said:I bet you could cut the bucket free and just plant the tree where you want. Water it really really well for 24 hours first, cut, replant right away, keep watered and give it root grow fertilizer for a few weeks, then watch really close to make sure it is watered well the rest of the summer. The alternative would be to cut the pot off around it and dig out the roots.

When I moved a tree, I was told to trim the branches because the roots would be getting severely cut down and it wouldn't be able to support all the branches, so I needed to balance it out by pruning the branches down too. I'm not sure if lilacs are the same way. They're pretty hard to kill though.


This seems like the easiest solution to me, though I may still have to dig the roots out of the yard so we don't grow new ones.

I think it's wise to prune the tree since the root ball will be smaller, though it probably means I won't get blossoms next year. Sad

My "I'd-pawn-a-grandchild-for-a-single-fan" list: Absolutely Fantastic, Ambar Sun, Undefinable.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Jun 21, 2016 7:33 PM CST
May I just add my 2 cents worth here - that this seems like a bad time to be thinking of moving a growing shrub. The weather is just about to be as hot as it gets all summer and your lilacs are putting on all the new growth that they will bloom from next year. I would at least wait until September when the sun isn't as intense and the days aren't as long.

The best possible time to move them would be after they go dormant and the leaves have fallen. If you prune them, then move them this summer, you surely won't get much in the way of bloom next year. But the big risk is that they won't survive unless you stand over them with a hose all summer.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Weedwhacker
Jun 21, 2016 7:48 PM CST
I agree with Elaine -- pretty much any other time of the year would be better than right now...

For a lilac, I really don't think you would hurt it, though, if you just cut the roots off, trimmed the top back a bit, and planted it. If it's quite rootbound, with the roots coiling around inside the pot, I would use a sharp knife to make a few top-to-bottom cuts through them (which will help new roots grow outward from the mass).
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 21, 2016 9:37 PM CST
it may not bloom if the shrub is trimmed off, but after being moved it really isn't going to bloom well anyway. Rule of thumb is to trim as much off the tops as the roots you loose- so that ratio is somewhat balanced. It will help them recover. If you absolutely HAVE to move them now, you can also stake some cardboard up around them to provide some shelter from the sun for a couple of months, you can also tape on some aluminum foil to help deflect the heat. Water them in the evening so they have all night to soak up and be cool. My experience w morning watering is that the sun comes out shortly and dries it right up.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by ge1836 and is called "Pacific Blue Ice"