Is this normal?

It's fine. This is perfectly normal.
It's dead. Let it go.
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I have other advice! You will love it. See below.
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Newly Registered
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Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:55 am

Are the leaves *meant* to fall off?

So, I've been kind of left in care of someone else's lilac shrub.

And all the leaves fell off.

It's autumn. So, this is normal... right? Can shrubbery be deciduous? Or is perennial the right term to use?

I know nothing, so any advice would be nice.

This is Austin, Texas; it's indoors; the soil is moist; the leaves dried up then fell off from the bottom up, without going black or mouldy or anything. The flowers at the top are still pretty bloomy.


As you can see, apart from the whole "dying rapidly" thing, it looks just fine and perky. Is there anything I should be doing other than letting it hibernate happily?

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Yup, lots of shrubs including lilac are deciduous. Are you in charge of this shrub for very long? I think the pot it is in is way too small for a shrub that size. If you are giving it back to the owner sometime this winter, then don't worry about it, since it will be dormant anyway. But by early spring, it will need to be moved to a pot at least three times that size. Are you keeping it indoors?

Lilacs need a period of cold dormancy. I'm not sure if you even get enough cold in Austin Tx for them to bloom well. They need a couple months where temps stay below 45 all the time. But definitely they won't get that indoors. It should stay outdoors for the winter.

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It was meant to go into the garden, and I dug the hole and everything... and then we got hit with a "once a week" watering rule, so, we left it in the pot for the time being. We'll see what next year brings before planting it, I think.

Thanks for the reassurance and advice. I'll kick it outdoors, then, sweep up the last few leaves happily, and not worry about it or feel guilty. :)

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Green Thumb
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Location: Hurry-Cane, Florida USDA10/SZ25

Might want to check again; once a week doesn't usually apply to new plantings 30-45 days from planting depending on your muni.

For a single shrub, hand watering from a can may be allowed unlimitedlyish.

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Site Admin
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Location: Amherst, MA USDA Zone 5a

Re the once a week watering rule, I visited the City of Austin website and the [url=]latest news posted there[/url] is that since September there is a Stage 2 Water Restriction in effect, which means:
Stage 2 Includes:
•Watering allowed 1 day per week for all Austin Water customers
•Hand-watering allowed anytime
•No automatic-irrigation after 10 a.m. on designated watering day
•Vehicle washing on designated day before 10 a.m.
•No charity carwashes
•No automatic fill valves for pools or ponds
•No outdoor fountains except to provide aeration for aquatic life
•No water to be served at restaurants unless requested
•No washing of sidewalks, driveways, parking areas or other paved areas
Unless Austin has gone into a more severe drought restriction level, it appears you are allowed to hand water your plants anytime because there are no restrictions on hand watering for a Stage 2 level Drought Restriction.

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Yes, but given the choice between sticking it out in the hole in the garden to be brought a glass of water every now and then to drink, and just keeping it a couple of steps from the sink next to the other potted monstrosities, I opted for the easy path.

But now I *have* to kick it outside, I maybe ought to stick it in its hole.

Greener Thumb
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Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

These are very tough shrubs but I do not recommend placing the hole where it can get full sun during the summer months. While lilac can handle full sun in the northern and middle states, the leaves get burnt during the summer months here so I usually suggest only varieties sold by local nurseries (Persian Lilac, etc) or try some of the Descanso Hybrids that are bred for warmer zones. I gave mine shade starting around 12pm-ish and it did well until some contruction workers messed it up and moved it elsewhere without telling me. -wall-

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Thanks! :)

For the time being, I've just popped it out the back door in its pot, on the assumption that I'm least likely to kill it if I just don't touch it. But once it gets planted, the hole I've dug is against a north-facing wall, and under a tree, so it'll get decent shade. Well, as good as you can get outdoors in Texas, anyway.

It's from a local company, so I'm hoping they'd sell the right kind for the area. But by the time it gets planted, it should hopefully be Someone Else's Problem anyway, since its owner should be coming back in Jan.

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