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Nursing a Lilac Bush Back to Health

I have a really large old lilac bush that is a sentimental favorite of my wife's. 2 falls ago I cut out a really large amount of poison oak that had been growing up though the center. The diameter of the main poison oak was about 4-5 inches and about 8-9 feet tall. I also have had a lot of off shoots trying to grow that I keep mowing. This bush went many years with no kind of care at all, no fertilizer, extra water other than rain and no pruning. After cutting the poison oak out it left a gapping hole where it had basically killed off any growth from the bush. I tried to prune it last year but I may have been a little late. This January I put down black plastic covered with about 3-4 inches of mulch all the way around to try to kill off the remaining poison oak and then removed the plastic leaving the mulch in the middle of march just as the 1st signs of growth appeared. I also think that it may have some fungicide because every year the some of the leaves turn brownish yellow but not the entire leaf mainly in the center of it. I am wanting to bring it back to a very full life and eventually even it out as one side is fuller and taller than the other. My wife says it does not bloom as full or last as long as it used to. What can i do? Please help.


Hardiness Zone: 7a

Paul from Lynchburg, Virginia

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By guest (Guest Post)
March 27, 20070 found this helpful

I would cut all of the old wood off your Lilac bush, and give it some food. go to the nursery and ask for a good brand of food for lilacs. It will need a lot of T.L.C . but it will come back, IF it blooms this year , cut the dead blooms off within, 2 weeks after blooming, or you will lose next years blooms < if you " deadhead " it later than that, If you have any suckers from the lilac bush, either transplant then , or if long enough bury them flat, and they will sprout roots along the length, then can be transplanted in the fall or early spring. You can also, if there are new long shoots, just lay them down in the soil and cover good, All lilacs need lots of sun lite. I would feed it at least 3 times during growing season, spring, and 2 times in summer, if you feed in fall, it will think it is time to re grow, it needs time to sleep through the winter. HOpe this helps

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March 31, 20070 found this helpful

I have a similar OLD neglected bush, and was told by my local nursery to cut it way back by 1/3 each year - not all the way in one year. we have also been taking the suckers and propgating them - transplanting to other parts of the yard- so when the big shrub eventually dies (I don't think it is going to really make a comeback) we can replace it with one of its own "babies"

Prune immediately after blooming - it sets buds just after that.

Good luck

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 5, 20070 found this helpful

What can I do for my lilac bush. It has some mildew/powdery type stuff on some of the leaves. Do I need to spray something? Please help me. Thanks in advance! Jeanette

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