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Pruning a Lilac?

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How and when should I prune my old fashioned lilac? It is maybe 10 years old or more. I don't think it has ever been pruned. It blooms on the south side of the bush. This year the blooms are very small.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
April 7, 20171 found this helpful
Best Answer

In my master gardener class we discussed this. Here are my notes.

Only need to prune for a desired shape, and it must be done as soon as the blooms are finished. By summer, they are already forming the buds and growth for the next year. Pruning is not necessary. Lilacs do best and bloom best in full sun. Too much shade and they won't bloom. Trim out any dead portions of the lilac. Be sure it has good air flow.

The very best time to prune is mid December to early spring BUT if you do it then you won't get any blooms the following year.

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Too much nitrogen, and they won't bloom good.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
April 7, 20171 found this helpful

Prune when it's 6-8 feet tall, and after it has finished flowering.

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
April 7, 20171 found this helpful

The best time for pruning lilac bushes is right after their flowering has ceased so new shoots have time to develop the next season of blooms. Pruning lilacs too late can kill young developing buds.

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www.gardeningknowhow.com/.../pruning-lilac-bushes-when-to-trim...

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
April 9, 20171 found this helpful

Maybe you need to do more than a little trimming.
Here is information from a university web site:

Trimming Mature Lilac Bushes
If a lilac bush has become overgrown, or is too large or tall for the area you have allotted it, there are a couple of ways to prune Lilacs.

We recommend the three year plan. A lilac shoot takes about three years before it produces a flower. So plan to eliminate 1/3 of the shrub each year, selecting the oldest stalks. Cut them down to just above the level of the soil. As you do, allow a new shoot to grow, to replace each old one you remove. By the end of three years, the entire shrub will have been replaced, and you will not go without lilacs for that period of time.

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If life with your overgrown shrub has just become unbearable, remove all old stock and leave just new first or second year shoots. This is pretty drastic. And, you will go a couple of years without lilac flowers. But Lilacs are hardy. As long as there are a few healthy new shoots, they will grow back.
Lilac trees are gorgeous when well cared for and maintenance is easy. Check these sites for easy instructions:

hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/.../lilac.html

www.wikihow.com/Prune-Lilacs

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