How To Prepare Lilacs For Winter

When choosing a location for your lilac shrub, consider the winter climate. For this plant to thrive, it requires alkaline to neutral soil and at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Do not place them up against a wall or structure with light colors. Winter burn may be caused by the reflection. Cover the plant’s base with 3 to 4 inches of mulch to help minimize winter heave (the exposing of roots caused by the freezing and thawing of the earth). If a severe freeze occurs in the late winter or early spring, you might need to cover your shrub to keep the new buds safe. You can use burlap, a blanket, or a plastic tent.

Should lilacs be pruned in the autumn?

All lilacs should generally be clipped right away in the spring after they have finished blooming. Lilacs set their flower buds for the following year immediately after the current year’s flowers have faded, therefore trimming later in the summer or fall will result in the removal of most or all of the blossoms for the following year. The larger common lilacs as well as the shorter or more “shrub like” cultivars are all subject to this timing guideline. While the “when” of lilac trimming is rather simple, the “how” is a little more difficult. For the time being, we’ll refer to lilac pruning as either maintenance pruning or rejuvenation pruning to keep things simple.

For the winter, do you trim back lilac bushes?

An old, overgrown lilac was one of the few plants that endured my garden restoration. The fact that it obscured my neighbor’s garage and, more importantly, sported steel-blue double flowers, led me to rescue it. Although the blossoms on this shrub were both lovely and fragrant, it was difficult to appreciate them because there were so few of them. I decided to go with a rejuvenation pruning because I knew there was no reason to give up on this long-neglected plant because lilacs can handle severe pruning.

On stems that are no older than five or six years, the common French lilacs (Syringa vulgaris cvs.) yield the most and the largest flowers. The flowers get fewer, smaller, and farther away as the stems get older. A lilac, however, may reliably produce blossoms for decades with the right trimming. The method you choose will depend on how old your shrub is. Plants are maintained annually to keep them healthy. A more drastic trimming may be necessary for lilacs like mine that have seen better days.

Lilacs should be clipped annually to encourage healthy stem development and strong growth that improves flowering. Cutting sick, deformed, and unproductive stems to the ground constitutes annual pruning. I thin and cut back some stems as well to promote healthy, evenly spaced growth. To prevent them from growing too far away from the center of the plant, I also pruned a few of the new shoots that emerged from the roots. I left a few inches between each stem to prevent crowding. Since they produce the most, I maintain the pencil-thick shoots that extend all the way to the ends of the branches. Small, twitchy growth is unproductive and won’t blossom. This growth can indicate an excess of aged, unproductive stems or too much shadow. Remove stems as soon as possible after blossoming, or in late winter if you don’t mind losing a few blooms. Cut off stems and shoots at or just below the soil line.

Dwarf lilacs rarely need pruning

Both the “Palibin” Meyer lilac (Syringa meyeri “Palibin”) and the “Miss Kim” Manchurian lilac (Syringa pubescens ssp. patula “Miss Kim”) are twiggy-habiting, somewhat small lilacs. On these types, just deadheading is needed in terms of pruning. You can prune some of the older stems as the plants get older to make place for younger, more robust stems. In contrast to regular lilacs, these plants hardly ever spread out of control. They might never need to be entirely regenerated if you only undertake a tiny amount of trimming every few years.

After the blooms have faded, deadheading, another aspect of annual maintenance, should be carried out as soon as feasible. Just above the two new shoots that slant out from the stem that stopped with the old bloom, the base of the old flower cluster should be cut off. The new shoots will develop throughout the course of the summer, produce flower buds, and culminate in a cluster of flowers the following spring. While not as crucial as the annual thinning, eliminating the old blossoms enables the plant to focus more of its energy on developing robust branches and flower buds. In June, I deadhead and thin my plants as needed.

While performing this yearly maintenance, I occasionally come upon a young, robust shoot that may be getting too tall but is still a good, productive stem and is a candidate for tipping off. I cut the wasted flower’s entire top stem back to one or two side shoots at the desired height rather of just cutting it off at the base. The side shoots that are now near the top of the bush are encouraged to grow vigorously and develop flower buds for the following year by this cut, which also aids in shrinking the shrub.

My own old, overgrown lilacs need more severe pruning. I went outside in the early spring before growth got going to get a good look at the bush. I looked to see if the plant had been grafted before I began chopping. I immediately cut it down to the ground as it hadn’t (for a grafted plant, see the panel below). I recognized that this drastic trimming would result in the plant losing part of its aesthetic appeal for a few years because lilacs bloom on the growth from the previous season. However, I was also aware that the reward—more blossoms and a stronger plant—would be worthwhile.

It’s crucial to nourish the plant after rejuvenation pruning with compost, composted manure, or a balanced chemical fertilizer and to make sure the soil pH is close to neutral, which lilacs appreciate. In the upcoming years, these supplements and some high-quality mulch will help to encourage vigorous new growth and enhanced flowering.

Has your lilac been grafted?

If your lilac has been grafted, check it out before you start making cuts to the stems. Grafting is a method of plant multiplication in which the scion, or branch, of one species is joined to the rootstock, or stem, of another species. This is typically done to enhance a plant’s look or traits. A graft union, where the cultivar’s scion wood joins the rootstock several inches above ground level, should be obvious. An apparent change in the bark from the rootstock to the scion’s bark, as well as a little swelling at the graft union, are things to watch for. If your plant has been grafted, all of your cuttings must be made above the graft union, and you must prevent shoots from the rootstock from developing into new flowering stems. Flowers of the desired shape or color will not be produced by shoots that emerge from the rootstock.

Should lilacs be shielded from frost?

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Although it may feel like spring is in full bloom, this week’s overnight temperatures could endanger your plants.

“According to A.J. Petitti of Petitti Garden Centers, since it is March, there will be times when the nights will continue to get cooler into April.

“It will soon be chilly and clear, with temperatures in the low 30s. He claimed that it would cause a good, heavy frost.

Northeast Ohio is expected to experience an overnight frost, which could destroy buds or flowers.

Evergreen trees should be fine, according to Petitti, but popular plants like lilacs, wisteria, and clematis need to be sheltered because the cold will likely cause their flowers to wilt.

“Petitti advised covering them with a sheet. ” Buy a frost cloth or an old bed sheet to cover your plants with. Anything with a flower, as long as it is buried.

However, according to Petitti, a lot of gardeners make a frequent error that results in plant death.

“The main thing to avoid, according to him, is simply laying down plastic. ” Avoid using plastic at all costs. The worst thing you can do is that. In actuality, it fries it ten times more severely than a frost would.

For plants you can’t bring indoors, Petitti advised utilizing topical remedies in addition to covering them.

“He said, “I suggest using Freezepruf.” ” It’s essentially antifreeze for your plants. In other words, it basically raises the temperature of your plants by five to seven degrees, which helps a little bit with insulation.

Can I prune my lilac shrub all the way back?

Older lilacs only bloom on the tallest branches and can have stems as thick as small trees. Fortunately, rejuvenation pruning can bring back a lilac that has been dead for around three years. There are two options available to you.

Using the “third” method is a less harsh way to pull an out-of-control lilac back into shape. For three years in a row, completely remove a third of the oldest branches from the tree. The thickest stems should be removed first. Pruning overgrown lilacs is simplest in the early spring before the branches start to leaf out, even if you’ll lose some blossoms for the current season. Your overgrown lilac should consist primarily of new shoots after three years of consistent pruning. After the plant starts to bloom all over, you may start doing routine maintenance pruning.

You can take the dramatic action of pruning back the entire plant to 6 to 8 inches above the ground in the early spring if you don’t like the way your old lilac looks or you just want a quicker solution. To encourage new development, fertilize the plant with compost or a balanced fertilizer. Throughout the growing season, new shoots will appear; allow them to continue to develop over the summer. The following spring, start cutting the spindly growth while keeping the healthiest shoots and keeping an eye on the plant’s shape. By pruning the remaining shoots to just above a bud, you can promote branching. After this, continue with routine maintenance pruning.

What are lilacs used for in the fall?

Cutting off the tops of stems that have grown out of control is frequently insufficient when pruning lilacs. It is typically preferable to remove the entire stem. The best way to trim lilacs is with clippers. To avoid spreading and promote later blooms, remove spent blossoms right down to the stems. Three-quarters of the branches should be pruned. Remove any shoots that are emerging from the main trunk and are growing close to the ground. Lilacs within the inner branches may need to be trimmed in order to increase air flow or let more light through.

However, it may be essential to prune the entire bush or tree to approximately 6 or 8 inches (15-20 cm) above the ground if lilac shrubs are already too big or starting to look unpleasant. Remember that it takes about three years for flowers to develop after the entire shrub has been cut, so you might have to wait.

How are mature lilacs pruned?

Similar to the lilac, heavy pruning needs to be done over a number of years. Remove any dead, spindly, dying, or ill-looking wood first. At the base, remove roughly a third of the tallest, oldest branches. The remaining branches should then be cut back by at least a foot. Over the following two years, repeat the same action.

Azaleas and rhododendrons prefer somewhat acidic soils. The optimal time to fertilize in the spring is right after flowering. Though slightly more expensive than chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers release their nutrients gradually and require less frequent application. After July 15, refrain from fertilizing to prevent the plant from going into full dormancy before winter. Use of lime or alkaline fertilizers should be avoided.

In the summer, rhododendrons and azaleas require a lot of water due to their shallow, fibrous root systems. Make careful to thoroughly hydrate them. You will require water all year long if they are planted beneath wide eave overhangs. Avoid going too deep when hoeing or raking around the plants. Mulches can be used to control weeds, maintain more consistent soil temperatures, and save moisture. Examples of such mulches include sawdust, bark dust, peat moss, straw, or other organic materials.

The garden is busy at the moment. These days, your vegetable garden can contain just about anything. Don’t put it off! Plant more lettuce, carrots, beets, potatoes, peas, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, melons, dill, basil seedlings, and brassicas. Also plant more beans, tomato and pepper plants, and more lettuce.

What distinguishes a lilac bush from a lilac tree?

Lilac bushes (also known as shrubs) are characterized by their numerous woody stems that emerge from the plant’s base. In contrast, the trunk of the majority of lilac trees is the only woody stem. However, your neighborhood garden center might also sell shrub lilacs that have been grafted onto a single stem to give them the appearance of miniature trees.

The choice between a lilac tree and a lilac bush is typically determined by the amount of space available. Lilac bushes come in a range of sizes and can be placed in more compact areas of a garden. A lilac tree requires space to reach heights of 20 feet and widths of 15 feet. Both require sunlight to bloom well.

Does pruning lilac bushes harm the flowers?

Your lilac bush will produce more blossoms the following year if you remove the dead flowers. When cutting off your flowers, it’s crucial to only remove the wasted blooms—don’t worry about any nearby stalks. Simply concentrate on the spent bloom’s stem if you can see the two fresh shoots that will grow into blooms the following year. Avoid cutting off the blossoms for the following year!

I now wish to stimulate a second flowering on my dwarf Bloomerang, which ought to happen in late summer or early fall. In order to produce more new growth and blooms during the second bloom season, the spent spring blossoms should be pruned off. A small amount of fertilizer made specifically for woody plants, which I could also use, will help encourage the shrub to bloom once more.

Do lilacs need fertilizer?

In zones 4–7 with cold summer weather, lilacs thrive. They are not advised for hot, muggy regions like zones 8 or 9. On the leaf, a powdery mildew may develop in hot, humid conditions. Lilac plants don’t require a lot of organic feeding or fertilization. To encourage flowering, we advise applying a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen. Poor blooms can be the result of too much nitrogen in the soil. You can add cow manure to the soil to encourage flowering if the fertility of the soil is low. Because it increases the alkalinity of the soil, bone meal is also an excellent fertilizer for lilac plants. The lilac can easily consume bone meal, a natural plant food. Use Epsom salt on your lilac plant once a month to encourage bushier growth and more flowers (2 tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water).