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Rooting a Cutting From a Lilac Bush

Category Cuttings
Lilac cuttings in a lime green pot next to a matching watering can
Propagation from cuttings is a common way of cloning your plants and shrubs, making for more plantings for your garden. This is a guide about rooting a cutting from a lilac bush.


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By 0 found this helpful
April 10, 2011

How can I start a lilac bush from a bush clipping?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By Ruth from Hunnewell, KS

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April 29, 20121 found this helpful
Best Answer

I took shoots from my 60 year old lilac bush last summer to plant at a new house and they are growing nicely. All I did was chop shoots with a shovel and stick in the ground with a lot of water. I didn't water again and never fed. No blooms yet but I understand it takes a few years of growth before they bloom.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 1, 2017

A piece of my lilac bush broke off in a storm. Can I replant this, if so how? It's about 5 ft. tall. It is soaking in a bucket of water for now.

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May 2, 20170 found this helpful

Some said it could be a hit or miss. But it's worth a try if you like the lilac. :)

Reference: http://forums.g  t-a-broken-lilac

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May 28, 20170 found this helpful

Do I have to remove the flowers in order to re-root a piece from lilac bushes?

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April 26, 20020 found this helpful

I have a large branch from a lilac bush that broke off a neighbor's mature bush. It is easily five feet tall and the stalk is 1-2" in diameter. I brought it home to salvage it's beautiful blossoms, but now I would love to root it and plant it later in my own yard. Is it too big? I cut the stalk at an angle and have it standing in a bucket of water right now. Should I use rooting powder? Are there any other approaches that may work? Any and all tips will be most appreciated!


- Nancy Richey

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May 7, 20020 found this helpful

My brother swears by rooting powder for his frangie pannies, but I didn't have much luck with them. On the flip side, when I cut my rosebushes back last year, I trimmed them down and shoved them in an empty pot which I left at the side of the house. I figured, maybe it will work, maybe not, but either way, it doesn't hurt to try.

You will need to cut the stalk down, maybe in half and have 2 cuttings. I would go for foot long sections. Let the bottom of it develop a 'callus' or in other words, let it dry out a little. Pull off any leaves that will end up below the soil line. Dip the base of each cutting in rooting powder and insert about halfway into fertile soil. You also want to make sure they don't have any growing tips at the time you insert it or it won't spend as much time growing roots and more time growing new leaves which will just weaken the rooting in the long run. Leave it alone for at least 6 months. Water it occassionally, when you water your other plants that are in the ground, but otherwise, don't worry about it.

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By guest client (Guest Post)
July 3, 20041 found this helpful

i want to thank you for the information on rooting lilacs, I look forward to my first try at this.. I do have one question though. I live in the midwest is there a certain time of year to do this, or is this something I can do now in July? Again thank you..

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By 1 found this helpful
January 17, 2011

Can you start a lilac from clippings?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By Shar from Chicago, IL

Answer Was this helpful? 1
January 21, 20110 found this helpful

I never have but I would sure try! Take a piece that isn't so woody and snip it, cut all the leaves off, dip it in rooting hormone and some sandy dirt, and try it. Heck do 5 or 6 at a time cause maybe you'll get 1 out of 6. Happy gardening.

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April 10, 20110 found this helpful

How do I root and/or transplant a cutting from a lilac bush?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Deb from Skowhegan, ME


Rooting A Cutting From A Lilac Bush

I don't know if there are right and wrong ways, but what I did about a month and a half ago worked, so let me share that with you. Where my husband works, there is a well established lilac bush, so I brought a little hand shovel along when I visited him. Down by the roots of the main bush, there were lots of smaller stalks coming up which had root systems of their own starting.

As I dug around those newbies, I could see that there was some very minimal attachment to the larger bush's roots, but I dug through that with my shovel as I dug. I brought them home, sprinkled growth hormone powder on the roots, and stuck them in containers of good dirt. About two weeks ago, I transplanted those into the ground, and as I did that I could see that the roots system had really grown while they were in the pot.


The new lilac bushes are looking very healthy in their new homes in my front yard, and there are new branches and new foliage on it even since I transplanted them into the ground. I am hopeful that they will bloom next year. (06/03/2008)

By tsiegl

Rooting A Cutting From A Lilac Bush

Everyone said that getting a "woody" type of stalk plant to root is impossible, so I googled "Propagating Laurel" and got some information from a professional grower, but in the end, I just did it my way. Here's how:

Make a propagating bed:
To make a propagating bed, take an old box and line it with a plastic garbage bag. If you use cardboard, put the bag on like you would a pillow case, so the bottom is also protected from the elements. (For my box, I use an old plastic soda-pop delivery crate and lined it with a piece cut from a $1 store shower curtain)

Next buy yourself a bag of playground sand (at Home Depot or Walmart) be sure the sand does not have any herbicides in it so plants won't grow (Like for doing brick work porches). Playground sand is clean! Also buy a bag of potting soil. Mix both of these together and pour the dirt/sand mixture into the box. But before you pour in the dirt/sand mix, set the box up on bricks, rocks or anything so they'll have good drainage. Next poke many holes into the bottom of the plastic and the box for good drainage (important). Now all you have to do is propagate your plants:

This is best to do in spring or fall and NOT while the plant is flowering. If the plant is flowering, be sure to cut off the flower as this where the plant will put most of it's energy. Here's what I did with my English Laurel. Before you begin, take all your cuttings and put them in a large glass of water overnight or for 1 or 2 days so they get a huge drink of water! This is super important as it will be their last drink of water until new roots grow (except what water they can take in through mist on their leaves)

How and where to cut your stems:
You want your stem to be no more than 6 or 7 inches long and half of that should be stuck down into the sandy soil. Cut the end of the stem at an angle and make sure you have the area where the "leaf-buds" are set into the dirt as that's where the roots will first start to form. (This is what a professional plant and flower grower told me.) The leaf-bud area is where the tiny next leaves form or where you've pulled off several old leaves. You can cut some small notches there if you like. Dip this in rooting hormone.

Also, you need to have at least 3 or 4 green leaves on the plant so the plant will continue to get chlorophyll. You need good drainage and sunlight that's not very hot. (Mine have northern exposure.) Also, never let your new rootlings soil totally dry out. If you can, keep a spray bottle with water close by to give them a good misting several times a day. One person told me to cover mine with a clear piece of plastic to keep moisture in) but when I did this all of my little plants died! So I found out it's best (for me) to keep them uncovered and just mist the leaves once in a while. (Since they have no roots, the only water they get is through the misting, but you also need to keep the soil moist so the roots will form.)

Before I stick my plants in the sand/dirt box I first poke a hole for the stem with a stick or a pencil then dip the stem into a glass of water, then into rooting hormone and be sure to get rooting hormone into the "leaf bud" areas too (not just on the end of the stem). Some leaf-bud areas I notched with a sharp knife and some I just pulled the old leaf off. I tried everything. Also, some propagators will cut the 4 or 5 leaves that are left in half with a pair of scissors, as this saves space in the propagating bed.

I started propagating my English Laurel last spring and summer, then left them be (they wintered okay here in the mild Seattle winter). Only half of my plants thrived, the other half didn't make it, so for me the ratio of living, rooting plants to plants that didn't root was about 50-50%. And, just last week I planted my very rooted laurel hedges. Once you plant your lilac, you'll need to water them daily for the whole summer. Also, after they've been in the ground for 1 month and they are used to being there, (so no transplant shock) then you should lightly fertilize them. I love the way I can now get plants for free by propagating them myself! In fact, I have a new batch "brewing" right now! I'm hooked on propagating! Sometimes I'll see some ivy or a bush I like that's growing at a gas station or a store, so I'll ask the owners of the property if I can have a cutting. You can't beat the price. Free!

And some good news for you is that I know that getting a living cutting from a lilac bush is possible because when I bought my place 3 years ago it came surrounded with a hedge, made up of many lilac bushes that are third generation cuttings taken from the previous owner's aunt and the place she lived before that and before that. They look beautiful right now (and smell delightful too!), but I wish they were evergreen, as I have no privacy in the winter.

Here's some great propagating information I found:

Propagation Discussion Forum: (you should ask your question here)

Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs, Trees and Vines:

Ed Humme answers your questions - Summer and Winter Cuttings:

Propagating for Beginners:

Plant Propagation, the Basics:

Rooting of Plant Cuttings:

New Plants from Cuttings:

I searched "Summer Lilac" on Dave's Garden here's the URL:
* Here's how they said to propagate summer lilac:
Propagation Methods:
by dividing the root ball (as suggested by Tsiegl)
from softwood cuttings
from semi-hardwood cuttings

My favorite place (and least expensive) to buy already rooted cuttings: (06/03/2008)

By Cyinda

Rooting A Cutting From A Lilac Bush

I took cuttings from an old fashioned lilac bush the spring of 2004 just after blooming was done. I rooted them outdoors in 6" pots enclosed in plastic bags kept in shade. I normally like to root cutting of any kind in straight moist perlite or sand, but happened to use potting mix that time. Rooting took place within 4-5 weeks and I planted out the one I kept for myself that late September. Growth has been moderate from 6" cutting in 2004 to about currently a little over 4'x4'. I hope to get blooms next year.


By Vera_Eastern_Wa

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January 17, 20110 found this helpful

By Ellen Brown


I saw a show on TV where they spoke about rooting lilac branch cuttings. I didn't catch the whole issue, they claimed you could root from a lilac bush by soaking in water.

Is this possible and how do I do it?

Hardiness Zone: 5b

Sandra from NH



Lilacs can be rooted this way. I've never tried it, but the basic premise is simple. Select a few shoots (maybe 12 inches long and the diameter of a pencil), dip the cut ends in some rooting hormone, place them in a pail of water, and wait for roots. It may be a whole lot easier and faster just to transplant some suckers. Use a shovel to dig up and slice the sucker's roots away from the mother plant, trying to preserve as much of the root as possible. Replant in the prepared location of choice, water well, and voila! New lilacs.

A third way is to root cuttings in soil. Take 6-8 inch softwood cuttings from this year's new growth. Remove the lowest leaves (leave 2-3 pairs on top), dip the cut end in some rooting hormone, and plant them in potting soil. Moisten the soil and cover them with plastic to create some humidity. You should expect to see some roots in 6 to 8 weeks.

Good luck!


About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.


Rooting Lilac Bushes

When I rooted lilacs I just took cuttings off my mom's lilac bush. Then I put them in tubs of water until they got roots. They did very well and I planted them and they are beautiful bushes now. (05/29/2008)

By Mythi

Rooting Lilac Bushes

One year, my neighbour decided to cut down a bunch of his lilac trees. He leaned them up against the fence around our yard until such time he was to dispose of them. In less than two weeks, the cut lilac branches had rooted. Today I have a number of beautiful lilac trees that are as high as the house. I also moved some of the "sucker" lilac roots to another location, watered and within two days, they looked like they had been there forever. (05/30/2008)

By Karyn01

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May 29, 20070 found this helpful

Does anyone know how one can begin lilac bushes without purchasing from a nursery?

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May 29, 20070 found this helpful

I am disabled and on Medicaid and hence have no dollars to spend on my garden. Many of my neighbours have lilac bushes and I'm sure a request for some part of their bushes for rooting or transplanting would meet with generous approval.

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May 29, 20070 found this helpful

Can you get a lilac branch to root in water? I have a 6 foot branch in a 5 gallon pail with rocks and water. Will this work?

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