This will not damage the bush. If you cut back too far, removing foliage and not just bare stem and seed capsules, you’ll reduce next year’s blooms. They generally grow in round, oval, and irregular shapes. One of the main reasons why lilacs start to die back is that they are not pruned enough. Any branches that appear to be declining should be removed, with a sharp pruner or lopper down to the base of the tree. Best to cut it back while it's dormant in winter or spring as it's coming into growth. Some say to have only about 10 canes per bush for best health and others say 2 or 3. To prune a lilac bush, begin by removing larger stems from the center of the plant with a pair of sharp gardening shears or clippers. However, you should never give up on a lilac bush that appears to be dying. Cut the next couple of stems down to half their length. If you happen to cut down the branches that have started budding, the penalty can be as bad as the lilac plant not blooming for about five years. The following year cut out the next 1/3 of the oldest branches then the final year cut back … Thank you for your question regarding pruning your lilac. Maintain Its Shape: The natural shape of a lilac bush is that of a flower vase. (you can actually pot up the suckers for new shrubs if you like). Please could you tell me how far I can cut this bush back without doing too much damage to it and what time of year would be best to do this. Lilac bushes bloom only once each year, in spring, but they make new buds after they bloom. Look for broken ends, damaged bark and obvious cuts or holes in the branches. Is it normal and healthy? A favorite spring bloomer, lilacs can be timed to bloom from early spring to early summer. You can actually dig the suckers up and pot them to make more lilacs if you wish, they actually mature faster than taking cuttings and rooting them. Cut branches back selectively to shape the dwarf lilac bush as desired, removing no more than one-third of any stem and making a clean cut just above a bud facing in … Cutting Lilacs. Lastly, remove all large, heavy branches that no longer produce flowers well. Dig down and cut them off a couple of inches below the ground. If your lilac is old and in really bad shape, remove one-third of the oldest canes (down to the ground) in year one, half of the remaining old wood in year two, and the rest of the old wood in year three. Many varieties' flowers have a strong, distinctive fragrance, though not all kinds of lilacs emit much of a scent. Most lilacs survive whether or not they are trimmed, but pruning them on a regular basis helps to keep them at their best. I did cut back the old blooms this spring. ‘Palibin’ Meyer lilac ( Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’) and ‘Miss Kim’ Manchurian lilac ( Syringa pubescens ssp. Lilac bushes can reach heights of up to 12 feet if they aren't pruned. Cut one or two of the lilac's oldest stems back to the base of the plant if the shrub is several years old and becoming bare or scraggly looking at the base. How to care for lilac. I must say that I thought your bush looked more like my forsythia bushes … I had several overgrown forsythia bushes that I had to cut way back to curtail their growth as they had outgrown or should I say “overgrown” their space. As the plants age, you can remove a few of the oldest stems to make room for younger, more vigorous stems. Just concentrate on getting it to the size and shape you want. Cut back weak branches to a strong shoot. Little pruning other than deadheading is required on these types. If you want to keep a framework of older stems, cut down one-third of stems. It is presently in a 12" diameter clay pot which it has been in for about four... », Add a photo Intermix cuts to give the bushes a fuller look. Cut back 1/3 of the older lilac canes or branches. Lilac bushes can get tall and leggy and knowing how to prune them will give you years of beautiful, fragrant flowers on manageable plants. For this reason, you need to be highly careful with the timing. This allows the plant to put its energy into growth instead of seed ripening and helps produce smaller shoots to grow and acheive a fuller plant. So maybe if I can just trim it way back. One way to renew a large, overgrown lilac is to cut the entire plant back to within 6 to 8 inches of the ground in late winter (March or early April). Some say that having 10 stems total is a good number but I can not attest to that myself. Cut off all of the lilac bush's branches that are broken or show obvious signs of disease. Large, overgrown rhododendrons can be cut 12-15 inches from the ground when necessary. What to look for when you prune common lilac . Follow the stem farther down and cut it off just above another junction point with other shoots. QUESTION: As you can see in this picture, I have one barberry that has thrived much better than the other two. Control the height of your lilac tree by trimming it to roughly one foot below the desired height in spring, right after the tree finishes flowering for the year. 19 May, 2009 How do I say thanks? It really needs to be replanted somewhere else, but I am afraid it is too large to remove and then replant. Ohio State University Extension: Why and How Should I Prune My Lilac Bush? It is higher than our front porch right now and it is actually too close to the porch. 4. 2 Cut stems with spent blooms back to just above the highest lateral bud. Cut fresh flowers in the spring. Of course, you can prune in the fall if absolutely required. Also remove all branches that are misshapen or growing sideways through the plant. To get the most flowers from a lilac bush, prune it at only certain times. Can I Cut Off Old Lilac Blooms From Last Year in Spring? After flowering in the spring, simply cut the oldest 2-3 branches back to the ground. If you have to look up at a 20-foot lilac bush to see your blooms, then it’s time to prune it down – the right way. The shrub will be little more than an unattractive clump of stems for a short while, but it quickly restores itself to a new, improved shape. Removing blooms to bring inside is actually healthy for you lilac bush. Cut back the plant to expose the inner branches. According to my book, time for pruning is autumn, if you need to do it. When lilac flowers reach their peak and are just this side of fading out, cutting... 2. Prune the oldest, longest stems to a third of their length. Finally, if you’re pruning a lilac cultivar, make sure that it’s not budded onto common lilac rootstock. Not budded onto common lilac rootstock same point a single stem or framework older. An ever bloomer the same point a single stem or framework of stems and shape you.! 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