Ask a Question forum: Lilac leaves turning brown in Kentucky

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South Central Kentucky
Oct 10, 2017 12:07 PM CST
We have lilac bushes that flowered nicely in the spring, and produced good growth during the summer. However, in early September, the leaves started to turn brown and brittle, and most concerning is the fact that next year's buds have started to open. Although the new growth looks healthy, I fear that the bushes will not have time to set new buds before the weather turns cold.

Is there any way to save these lilacs?
Thumb of 2017-10-10/Jadr51/999882

Name: Trish
North Yorkshire
Region: United Kingdom Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Cottage Gardener Birds
Dragonflies Bulbs Roses Clematis Heucheras Greenhouse
Oct 10, 2017 12:22 PM CST
Sorry to see your plants looking so unhappy.
You don't say how old the shrubs are, they look to be fairly young. If they were only planted within the last 12 months or so it could be that they haven't had enough water. Lilac is a very greedy/thirsty plant and like all newly planted shrubs etc needs regular watering until the roots have become established enough to find their own supply.
Failing this the plants may have been scorched if you have had the luxury of some hot weather.
Hopefully they should recover for next season. Give them a 7:7:7 fertiliser in the Spring when new growth starts to show.
The garden, where my mind goes to seed.
South Central Kentucky
Oct 10, 2017 4:44 PM CST
I appreciate the reply!

These shrubs are about 5 years old, and yes, our southern Kentucky home has had its share of hot weather, however, the heat hasn't been what I would call extraordinary. The blooms this past spring were healthy, but as you can see, the attached photo shows how the leaves have become gnarled, discolored and brittle. Most worrisome is how the leaf buds that would normally "pop" in spring are opening right now! The healthy-looking leaves in the photos have sprouted with over the past two weeks, with more to follow. Hopefully, some of the remaining buds will resist, otherwise there will be nothing left to sprout come spring. I will definitely try the 7-7-7 fertilizer.

Kind regards and thank you for the advice!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Oct 11, 2017 5:21 AM CST
My lilac looks similar, so with this year's consistent rain I was guessing a leaf fungus of some kind.
I think yours has a very good chance of recovery.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)

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