Why Is My Lilac Bush Not Growing?

I planted a common purple lilac this spring to replace the one that had to be removed last year due to a sewer line problem. It was about 2ft. tall to start out and I followed planting directions, mulched around it and kept it watered during the very hot summer that we've had this year. It looks healthy at this point, but it hasn't grown at all! I'm wondering if I ended up with a dwarf variety rather than the common purple, as it looks healthy yet no growth. Has anyone else experienced zero growth the first year?

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October 1, 20181 found this helpful

You might have too much nitrogen in the soil.

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October 3, 20180 found this helpful

I planted it right where the old one was planted, & that one had been doing great (until they had to dig it up to get to the sewer break). Only thing that I've given the new one was the the pack of some type of plant food that the nursery gave me with it when I originally planted it in the spring & I followed the directions/planting instructions to the letter. It actually looked healthier for about the first month or two after I planted it, but it was a really hot & humid summer so maybe that's what's affecting it?? Hope that I haven't ended up with a Miss Kim or something small--need the old fashioned big lilac like what had been there to screen the back of the neighbors garage.

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October 15, 20180 found this helpful

Lilac needs a very very rich soil all its life. Planting it where another lilac had grown is not a good idea. In the automn put manure or/and wood ashes around its foot without touching the foot and leave the rain drives the nutrients to its roots.

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Liquid fertilizers are not useful for outdoor plants (I'm not sure they are for indoors plant either ...) You will have to put new rich soil every year if you want it to keep strong and give a lot of flowers. Lilac is a real glutton.

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October 17, 20180 found this helpful

Thanks, Catherine! Will try the wood ashes--have some handy from the backyard firepit. Never heard that lilacs are so finicky with being replacement planted, have heard that one about roses, though. Will give it the ashes & then wait until spring next yr. but if I still don't see any new growth, I'll move it somewhere else & look for something else to plant there.

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October 2, 20181 found this helpful

I've always loved lilacs--even carried a basket of lilacs in my first wedding, so I planted a bush at our last house. It was right outside the front door, and I checked it constantly. If I recall correctly, I don't think it bloomed the first year, but then it began to the next year.

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Every year I would get more clumps of blooms. Then one day I came home to find my son, who was about 12, had cut it almost down to the roots. When I started screeching, he told me "I thought it was a weed." It did come back and start blooming again, so give your lilac bush time.

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October 3, 20180 found this helpful

Yeah, my husband has been known to chop at the lilacs (we have them all across the back fence-line in the yard) pretty badly & we have never lost one yet! (Until the sewer issue.) Seems like they kind of like the old dead wood removed every few yrs. This new one is just puzzling me with the low (actually NO) growth. Will probably give it to spring & then move it if it's still living and still isn't growing and try again with another one.

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October 5, 20181 found this helpful

Is it possible that the sewage issue leaked yuck into the soil? If so, this may be the issue. I would hope that the yuck would dissipate and then once it does the plant should go back to its normal responses and grow.

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You could always call the place you got the plant and ask them for guidance. Mixing up plant types seems to be common....Lord knows why...maybe new and experienced spring staff. It is so frustrating.

I have only had established plants, but I know they are quite sensitive to changes and don't do well if they get too much fertilizer, which surprised me, as I grew up thinking you always had to feed every plant.

Your solution to give it to next spring is best and go from there! These are usually hardy souls so hopefully things will improve for it!

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October 5, 20180 found this helpful

Thanks to all that replied, & you may be on to something, Pghgirl140, after the the sewerline collapse & contamination of the soil--would definitely be natural fertilizer there! I will call the nursery where I bought it next year if it still doesn't seem to be growing. It's not looking bad at all, it's just the same size as when I planted it & had hoped for alot of growth! Maybe next year!

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October 5, 20180 found this helpful

I pray for plants (they are family too right!) and have sent up some that yours comes back and grow next year!! Take care and hopefully in season you will be able to send us photos of lovely (and taller) lilacs!! MMMM...love, love, love that scent!

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May 29, 20190 found this helpful

WOO-HOO!!!! Thanks to all for the very helpful suggestions! Happy to report that the lilac took off this spring with about a foot of new growth so far! Looks very healthy & is getting taller and wider by the day. We did fill in some low areas where water would stand near it last fall & also planted some grass there and did apply the wood ashes a couple of times.

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Thrilled with the growth rate & hoping it continues--didn't want to have to move it & start all over again! Thanks, again! Lin

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