Lilac Not Blooming

I'm through with my lilac tree. I plan to dig it up and try a different plant. It hasn't bloomed in over six years when it was first cut back. It does have nice dark green leaves. I've tried everything. But, I'm looking for some color. Any suggestions on what I might replace it with? I live in Cleveland, Ohio


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April 2, 20190 found this helpful

You might have overfertilized your tree. It will not bloom if it has too much nitrogen. I would leave it alone and see how it does the next couple of years.

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April 4, 20190 found this helpful

We are in Pittsburgh, so similar climate. Our Rhododendron do well and have a lovely pink color. They come in other colors also. My mother has good luck with Azalea. They are also pink.

Both bushes can grow as tall as you want or kept as small as you want. They are pretty hardy and both of ours have survived many years with benign neglect.

Oh, and forsythia (although I have only seen yellow around here), they do really well in our climate.

Neither of us have had luck with Hydrangea (although I love them) our soil is just not right for them.


Too bad your lilac did not thrive. When I was in elementary school our building was surrounded by lilac bushes. When I was young I was terribly allergic to them (which thankfully I would grew). I love the smell and the deep colors.

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April 7, 20190 found this helpful

I really hate to see people remove an older plant without really trying to make it do what is desired.

How old is this plant?
Did your lilac tree/scrub ever bloom?
Why did you cut it back?
Has it been pruned in the years since it was cut back?

You are in USDA zone 5-6 and most sites say lilacs grow best in zones 4-8/9 so that may be part of the problem.
I would suggest you contact your local Agriculture/Extension Service and ask them about your lilac tree. If you answer the questions listed above (a picture would also help) they will help you find out why it is not blooming and if you still wish to remove it, they can help you with suitable plants to take its place.


Some information from garden sites about how to help lilacs bloom.

"Improper pruning - Lilacs do not need to be pruned, but if you prune it back hard in order to rejuvenate the bush, it will take several years to recover and may not bloom during that time. Even lighter pruning, simply to shape the bush, can affect how well a lilac will bloom. Pruning lilacs in late summer will cut away the wood that would have been the blooming wood for next year.

Lilacs won't bloom if they're overfertilized. They can handle a handful of 10-10-10 in late winter, but no more.
Fertilizer Your soil may be at fault too. Lilac bushes that won't bloom could be the result of too much nitrogen. Because of this, you should not fertilize your lilacs. They do not need much in the way of nutrients, and fertilizing can cause a lilac to take up too much nitrogen, which keeps the lilac bush from blooming.


Age - Yet another reason for a lilac not blooming, or not blooming well, is that it is too old. Lilac bushes bloom best on younger wood and, if your lilac is mostly old wood, the number of blooms will be reduced. You will need to do a rejuvenation pruning on the tree, which will affect the blooming further for 2-3 years, but after that the lilac bush will return to full blooming."

I hope you will check with your agriculture agent (or someone from your local Master Gardener Center) before you remove your lilac.

Here are a couple of sites that have a lot of useful information about caring for lilacs.

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April 7, 20190 found this helpful

Lilac must be pruned every year right after the flowering and not in Autumn. Very often people think that their lilac doesn't need to be pruned as it keeps on flowering every year but it is in fact because they cut the branches to make beautiful bouquets and this way prune the lilac at the right time and the right way it should be pruned.


That is : every year just after it flowered and by cutting behind two buds of the ends of the flowered branches, because it is the buds of the previous year that flower in the spring of the next year not the buds of the year.

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