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Rooting Lilac Bushes

Q: 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?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Rose from Clinton, ME

A: Rose,

You can root lilacs this way, but it's not easy. They usually require a little help in the form of a rooting hormone. I've never tried this, but you can make you own rooting solution using "willow water." Cut willow branches into 1-3 inch lengths until you have about 2 cups worth. Add these to 1/2 gallon of boiling water and let them steep overnight. If you don't use boiling water, the branches should soak in warm water for at least 48 hours. The next day, drain off the liquid from this solution. Take any lilac cuttings you want to root and soak the ends in this water overnight before you plant them, or simply water the soil you plant them in with this water (2 applications).


There is another way you can get more lilacs, and that is to propagate them. A simple way to do it is to take softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings are taken from the new growth that is coming out this year. Usually you'd cut them, dip them in some rooting hormone powder and plant them in potting soil or stick them in a product like Gel 2 root. Moisten the soil and cover them with plastic to create some humidity. Most lilacs will root this way in 6 to 8 weeks.

Good luck!


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