Need help bringing back an old Lilac Bush

angelonia_anne(z5NY)May 31, 2005

I removed a tulip tree from my backyard that was shading an old lilac tree, and I want to bring the lilac back to life so it blooms again now that it finally has some sun.

The lilac tree consists of about 4 very long and thick branches about 8 feet high. These tall branches only have leaves on the end along the last couple feet of the branch.

I was wondering what would happen if I sawed off these 4 branches to about 12 inches high. Would the lilac survive and put out new shoots? or would I just be killing it?

Thanks for your help-

Regards-

Angelonia_Anne

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bcday(z5 NY)

Old lilacs can be cut back to a foot high in late winter, but I don't know about trying that in June, and definitely not if you want flowers next spring. Lilacs bloom on old wood, not new shoots. I'm sure that your bush will send up lots of new growth now, and I would put off cutting back any branches during the growing season until you see some. Lilac shoots grow fast, so the new shoots should grow enough to fill in the bare lower parts of the old branches fairly quickly, and you'll still have flowers at the top in the spring. Then you can trim out one or two of those older branches every year until the really old ones are gone.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 12:41AM
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tomtuxman(6bNY)

Some sources say to chop the whole thing back to about 6 or 8 inches high. I would do that now, if I chose to go the more drastic haircut route, because to do so in the wintertime or even fall could run the risk of new shoots getting freezer burnt. Especially as you are in Z5.

The other method for really old thick lilacs is to chop off one-third (or in your case, one or two) of the really thick old growth this year, then another one next year and so forth. This preseves more option of continuous bloom, if any. Personally I would use the former method.

Also, lilacs like sweet soil, so a bit of lime or wood ash might be in order if your soil is acidy.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 11:01AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I think at this point, you'd kill it.

I'd give it a bit of fertilizer, and leave it alone for a year or two. After it starts sprouting again from the base (if it does start sprouting again from the base), then the old wood can be removed.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 1:31PM
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Carol_from_ny

I'd wait till fall then trim it back to about a foot tall. Come spring it should shoot up very nicely. You might not get any flowers the first spring or if you do they will be few BUT after that they should increase.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 3:15PM
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lynngh19616_aol_com

MY LAWN GUY CUT BACK MY LILAC BUSHED TO ABOUT 3 FT. I HAVE HAD THIS DONE BEFORE WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS. HOWEVER, THIS YEAR IT HAS NOT GOWN TALL OR BROUGHT FORTH LEAVES AND LILACE BUDS.. IS THE BUSH DEAD, OR SHOULD I LEAVE IT UNTIL NEXT YEAR. VERY UPSET, ALWAYS HAD PLENTY OF LILACES FOR MOTHER'S DAY GIVEN AWAY. PLEASE HELP.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 6:31PM
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