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How to Prune Lilac Bushes

Learn how to properly prune lilac bushes with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

The beautiful blue-purple color and fragrant smell make lilac bushes a favorite among gardeners and landscapers. To keep lilacs manageable and healthy, they need to be pruned. Without pruning, they become anywhere from 15 – 20 feet tall, making them very difficult to care for and manage. With the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn how prune lilac bushes.

How to Prune Lilac Bushes
Lilacs are known for their beautiful purple flowers and fragrance. They can also grow unmanageable if not properly pruned. Learn how to prune lilac bushes with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

When to Prune Lilacs

Lilacs bloom in the spring. They don’t require pruning until they’re six to eight feet tall. The best time to prune a lilac bush is right after the plant is done blooming for the year. If you wait too long after they bloom, new buds will blossom. You don’t want to cut off the new buds when you’re cutting off unwanted branches–you won’t have any flowers for the next season.

Pruning just after the spring bloom also makes it easier to see which branches are producing flowers and which ones aren’t. Any dead branches can be pruned early in the spring.

How to Prune Lilacs

To start pruning your lilacs, you’ll need hand pruners, garden gloves and possibly a garden or hand saw.

Flowers – Cut out any old or dead growth toward the middle of the bush. This helps discourage any fungal growth and also increases air circulation to the healthy, young flowers. Deadheading, or cutting off dead flowers, should be also be done.

Stems – Any long stems that affect the shape of the lilac bush can be cut off. Tipping off the stems close to next pair of shoots helps with healthy, new growth.

Trunks – Before you start hacking away at any of the main trucks (lilacs typically have two or three), inspect it to see if it’s grafted. Grafting is when two different kinds of lilacs are combined to create a specific flower color or shape. If your plant is grafted, cutting below the grafted part can affect the way the plant grows. If your lilacs aren’t grafted, you won’t need to be as careful with your cuts.

Suckers – The little trunks at the base of the main trunk are called suckers. They should be cut back to the base of the trunk. If they continue to grow, they can actually use up nutrients and energy that the lilac bush needs.

Keeping Your Lilacs Healthy

Besides regular pruning, there are some other ways you can keep your lilacs healthy. Don’t over-fertilize the lilacs. It can actually cause more leaves than flowers to bloom. You should also test the pH level of your soil. Lilac bushes need soil that’s in the neutral range of the pH scale–between 6 and 7. If your soil is too acidic (below 6) you can add lime to the soil. If it’s too alkaline (above 7) you can add sulfur fertilizer or soil acidifier to the soil.

At Blain’s Farm & Fleet, we understand that you want your flowers, lawn and garden to all look their best. That’s why we carry all the lawn and garden supplies you need at a value you’ll love. For more tips on tending to your flowers, visit our Gardening blog.


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