My Lilac Bush is Half Dead

Q: I have a mini Lilac bush that is half dead. There are parts of the bush that have leaves and small flowers. Is it safe to cut the dead part off? And any ideas what caused this?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Thanks,
Shawn from DePere WI

A: Shawn,

Hopefully, you've figured out what the problem is, but in any event, it's okay to prune any dead or badly damaged branches from your lilac tree, especially if you suspect it might be the result of disease. To avoid any possible disease from spreading, go ahead and trim off any deadwood. If some of the branches just have brown tips, don't remove them until you see new growth starting to emerge elsewhere on the branch. And leave any branches with new or light green foliage alone.

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If you're feeling brave, you can also try rejuvenating it by cutting the entire shrub down to within a few inches of the ground. If your lilac tree isn't too far gone, new shoots will emerge from the basal stems or roots. You can then thin out the weakest stems and let the strongest, more vigorous stems take over. This type of harsh pruning is best done in the dormant season before new growth begins.

Good luck!

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! 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. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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June 6, 20060 found this helpful

I WOULD GO AHEAD AND CUT THE DEAD OFF . MAKE SURE ITS DEAD THO . COULD BE BUGS . AFTER I CUT IT BACK I WOULD SPRAY IT WITH SEVENS DUST . THEN USE MIRCLE GROW . GOOD LUCK

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June 9, 20060 found this helpful

Hi Shawn,

I have a Lilac bush that WAS half dead. I cut off the dead parts along with giving some plant food after the operation.

It has been three years now and the tree is fully back to life....lots of new growth each year.

Did you have problems with bugs? I had ant problems that were causing my tree to decay.

~Wendola~

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