Wilting Leaves On A Lilac Bush - Knowledgebase Question

Atoka, TN
Avatar for SEWhiteJr
Question by SEWhiteJr
December 9, 1997
I have a lilac bush that is approximately 8yrs old that very seldom blooms or even tries to bloom. The leaves wilt around the edge, the center of the leaf down the stem stays green but all the edge and area approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the edge always turns brown. I have tried root stimulator which helped a little, I have also tried pickling lime but neither has performed miracles.

Answer from NGA
December 9, 1997
I don't know what pickling lime is, but it might have salt in it, and salt is bad news for most plants. If lime is needed, use garden lime only. What you describe sounds like a soil pH and/or nutrient problem, since the plant responded to the water-soluble fertilizer amendment. One of the symptoms of potassium deficiency is marginal leaf burn and you describe that above. I suggest that you have a soil test done to confirm the problem. If it is a potassium deficency, you can take a two step approach.First, apply organic material to the soil around each of your lilacs. Use household compost (from your own supply) or purchase commercial compost, mushroom compost, or composted cow manure. This will feed the soil and gently provide some nutrition for your lilacs. Second, try applying fertilizer such as a 5-10-10 to your lilacs. I prefer the extended release pelletized varieties such as "Once". Be sure to follow package instructions. Now, for the lack of blooming...they probably (at their age) require a little rejuvenative pruning. If you are interested, here is a 3 yr. plan: The first year, immediately after bloom (no matter how sparse), remove 1/3 of the large growth at the base of the plant. The second year remove another 1/3, and the third year, the final 1/3. This forces vigorous new stalks to grow. Water plants well during dry spells, too, and mulch to maintain moisture.

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