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Rooting Lilac Bushes

Q: 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.

What part(s) of these bushes should I ask for? How do I go about rooting them? Is it too late for this year? Also, there are several mature but small (about 3 feet high) bushes that I may be able to transplant. Again, is this the wrong time of year?

If I can transplant these bushes - beyond digging them up - what immediate care will they need?

Thank you so very much for any help you can give me!
Suz Long Island NY

A: Suz,

The usual way to root lilac bushes is to dig up suckers near the base of the plant and transplant them. To minimize stress on the transplants, the best time to do this is in the fall after the leaves drop, but before it freezes. Or if you prefer, you can also do this in the spring before the buds start unfolding. In an area receiving full sun, dig a hole at least twice as wide and deep as the roots. Lilacs prefer well-drained, not-too-rich soil that has a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. As you fill in the hole with dirt, add in a small amount of compost. You can also add some compost to areas around the hole to encourage the roots to spread out as they grow. Make sure you water the transplants thoroughly and add mulch around the base of the plants. After planting, the transplants shouldn't need any special care other than routine watering. Expect transplants to take at least three years to get a decent start.


Ellen (05/28/2006)

More Answers:

lilacs won't bloom

Lilacs are known to take four years to bloom. If you plant a "new" bush, you can expect them to bloom the fourth season, not likely before that. Be patient! They're worth it! (05/31/2006)

By Leigh Ann

Rooting Lilac Bushes

To propagate lilacs from a cut branch is very difficult and requires added nutrients to the water. It is very difficult to achieve, but it can be done.
Another way of propagating lilacs is to grow them from small shoots taken from an existing plant. Shoots that are one or two feet tall should be selected for best results. The plant should be dug up deeply, to ensure that as much of the root system is removed as possible. The root system should be strong and full. The main root should be attached to the mother plant, and clippers should be used to cut the selected shoot from the main bush. The new shoot can then be planted in the desired location. This should be done in a time of colder weather, to increase the survival rate. Three to five shoots should be planted in each area for this type of propagating to work best.


It is generally about three years before lilacs are able to create blooms once they have been planted.

I wish you luck! My parents had their entire yard enclosed in lilac bushes and it smelled heavenly and looked gorgeous!


By michellejones3

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