Ask a Question forum: Miss Kim Lilac pruning

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Maryland
dijear
Jan 26, 2018 12:49 AM CST
I have two Miss Kim Lilac bushes that have grown much larger than I would like. I would like to trim off about 25% (or even a little more) with the hedge trimmer. It would be easy to shape them at this time since the branches are bare. Can I do this without killing or seriously damaging them? Could I do it now (Jan/Feb)? Or should I wait until March? I am in Maryland. Yes, I know I would be cutting off most or all of this year's blooms but I'm willing to live with that so long as the leafage grows and they otherwise look healthy this spring and summer. Thank you!
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jan 26, 2018 8:32 AM CST
dijear - Yes, ideally it's best to prune lilacs right after blooming so you don't miss out on blooms. Otherwise, best to prune while the lilac is fully dormant. Pruning when the weather is warmer encourages young new growth that might not survive the still-cold months. It is best to prune out longer individual branches back to the "joint" to prevent the inside of the bush from being bare and void of leaves. I learned the hard way on that.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
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Leftwood
Jan 26, 2018 3:58 PM CST
That's really good advice, Shadegardener. There are people that prune lilac the easy way with a hedge clipper on a yearly (or almost yearly) basis. While it doesn't affect the health of the plant, it does result in less flowering in future years (not just the ensuing year) and promotes a bunching of branchlets at the outer perimeter of the shrub that most people find undesirable. On the other hand, if your prune with a hedge clipper every 3-5 years, you will likely be happy with the results.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jan 26, 2018 7:15 PM CST
Rick - you explained it better than my morning-fog brain. Smiling Once I started pruning it correctly, I had the best flower show in 10 years.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Maryland
dijear
Jan 29, 2018 10:54 PM CST
Leftwood and Shadegardener: The forecast here is for rain and snow the next couple days but I'll get out there as soon as I can and prune. This will be the first pruning ever with the hedge trimmer and it has been a couple years since I trimmed lightly with the clippers. Thanks for your responses. I appreciate your input!

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