Need help starting lilacs from cuttings

pchan27April 4, 2007

There is a lilac that thrives on it's own from an old homestead on a military base. No one takes care of it, or waters, or fertilizes it. It survives on it's own. The nurseries down here sell lilac, but they all die within 3 years because they can not withstand the humidity and the high heat index. Thus, the reason I am trying to start cuttings from this specific lilac. It has been there over 50 years!

Has anyone ever tried to start a lilac from cuttings? If so, what did you do to get it to root? Will they root if I keep them in water? Should I try to get root sprouts and plants those in pots? Any help would be appreciated. I have 3 out of the 20 cuttings I took that look great and might root in the 4 inch pots I put them in. The others are mostly drooping. I really want these to succeed because my mom really loves lilac. Can anyone help me with this?

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I'd really like to know about lilac propagation too. How long does it take them to grow?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 10:51PM
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Lilac in general are not easy to root from cuttings and timing is critical; ideally softwood cutting should be collected before end leaves mature, treat with hormone dip (IBA talc powder or quick dip), a well drained medium and mist, mist, mist. Transpiration through the leaves will cause excess wilting, remove bottom leaves and leave a couple on top for photosynthsis. I hope this helps somewhat, softwood cuttings require a #1 rooting powder. Janet

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 10:06AM
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Thanks for the advice. I only took new growth as cuttings and dipped half of the cuttings in a rooting hormone. However, I have been watering as normal, and only occassionally misting! I might try that. I also have them out of the sun because the sun is too hot even for them and stresses them more. Does anyone know how long it takes for a lilac to root? And is there a simpler method to root besides using cuttings? Has anyone been successful in ever getting a lilac to root?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 7:39PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

on a big plant.. the easiest method is to root around the periphery of the plant.. and find shoots the the plant sent out last year .... that are already rooted and ready to go ... gently fluff the soil and trace the runner back a few inches toward the center of the mother plant .. and sever it when you find some roots .... pot and baby until fall, and them plant them out ....

the lilac actually propagates itself ... by runners [if that is the correct term for a lilac] ....


    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 9:24AM
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taxonomist(7b VA)

I believe that you will learn that time of year is very critical. Late or maturing softwood cuttings are usually OK, but I believe you'll have better luck when the new growth has just begun to form firm woody tissue.Here in central Virginia this is mid-May. The use of o.8% Indolebutanoic acid (IBA)and a rooting medium that drains well is also a necessity. Do not allow the cuttings to wilt!!! They nornally form roots in 6-7 weeks at 70-75 degrees F.
Syringa oblata var dilatata seems to withstand the horrible heat and humidity of Virginia better than most species.
Good Luck!!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 7:08PM
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The next thing I will try is getting actual root sprouts as mentioned above from the runners. I do not have access to this plant as much as I would like and have to go with a friend who does. So I will take the time of year into consideration. I still have three that look great. I feel like I'm doing a science fair project since I'm checking on them more than once a day. I have moved them inside where the temperature is about 75 degrees. We will experience a cold front this weekend and that would surely kill them off.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 9:09PM
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Well, it has been 5 weeks and I only have 5 lilac cuttings left out of the 20. I thought since they made it this far, they might have rooted, but no such luck. The stems have starting to turn brown on some and the leaves are falling off. I am so aggravated to get this far just to have failed!! I don't know what else to do at this point or if there is any way to save the ones I have left.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 11:57PM
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