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Jun 2, 2018 4:23 PM CST
Minnesota
I'm have 3 lilacs in a row, last year and especially this year, the oldest lilac is really struggling with leaves. It's only older than the other 2 by 1 and 3 years but you can see the difference in the photos. Its about 7 years old and planted in full sun. It was sitting next to a broken gutter for about 3 years, maybe there's a connection? Blooms are fine but all the leaves are almost gone. I tried to remove 2 large limbs last year which did nothing, and 1 this year, with very little regrowth. Should I give it hard pruning? I really need this shrub for privacy.
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Jun 2, 2018 9:27 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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That broken rain gutter may have lead to root rot. If so, there's really nothing you can do to save it.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Jun 3, 2018 5:59 AM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
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Lilacs need to be pruned on a regular basis. They produce new stems every year. The older stems or canes need to be pruned out. The older trunks or stems do not bloom as they should.
When the lilac stems are younger, they are more vigorous, and they bloom reliably.
This is so important for the overall health of the plants that many people don't bother!
Taught classes on Orchids and Orchid growing and led hundreds of bird walks. Retired Wildlife Biologist.
Avatar for Minnesotagarden
Jun 3, 2018 7:45 AM CST
Minnesota
I hope I'm responding the correct way. Thank you for your replies. Root rot.. I was afraid of something like that but I was hoping for maybe like nutrients being washed out of the soil, not even sure if that's a thing. This was the first shrub I've ever planted and it gave me a love of gardening, so I'm a little attached to him. I tend to them over the years with pruning because I know how ugly they get when they are left to run free. In case it's not root rot, can I add to the soil? I'd like to try to help it before I remove it. How do I go about that? Just remove the rocks and add compost? Assuming if it's worse next year just remove it? 😢 thank you for your help
Avatar for luis_pr
Jun 3, 2018 7:54 AM CST
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
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I would remove the rocks and use organic mulch. The rocks retain heat, release it later in the night (which keeps the roots hot for longer periods) and thus can make the roots quite uncomfortable. In my area, temps can hit the 100s now and rock mulch would probably result in bunches of dead shrubs. Luckily, in MN the sun is not as bad in the summer.
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