tealwave
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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 3:17 am

Lilacs not growing/blooming

Hi all!

New the the forum and just need one solid concrete answer... I have 2 lilac bushes, approximately 3ft from one another, in a southern exposed area, in soil that is poor and somewhat sandy. The lilacs are 5 years old and have not bloomed nor grown, for that matter, in the three years that they have been in my care. I did not plant them but I know they are not grafted plants. I am able to transplant if that is what advice I am given - but please tell me the best exposure of where to plant! I can't understand - my parents have 2 trees - they're massive and bloom every year and they don't do a thing to them. What am I missing?? :D

grandpasrose
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Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

Welcome to the forum Tealwave!
I can tell you a couple of things that you should try. As you say you have poor soil, try digging around your bush, without disturbing the roots if you can, and add some compost, well rotted manure, mulched leaves, kelp, to the soil surrounding your bushes. Then you need to add some wood ashes to the soil around the bushes. Lilacs will not bloom unless they are in alkaline soil, and the ashes will solve this.
Your bushes are only 5 years old. That is not very old for a lilac. It takes years to have massive lilacs like you describe at your parents.
So try my suggestions, and add a little patience, and they will bloom for you soon! :wink:

Val
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

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Val offers good advice. I also wonder if this is near or in one of those four step lawns that get bombed with nitrogen regularly. Too much nitrogen shuts down blooms in favor of foliage growth...

HG

tealwave
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DING DING DING DING!!!!!!!! :idea: .

Helpful Gardener! You are a GENIUS! I bet you're right with the nitrogen... When we moved in the people previous to us had one of those 4 step programs... then we got here and nearly killed the lawn and started the program again BUT the people behind us, where the lilacs are bordering have the 4 step program religiously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So now what - wood ash to counter balance??

grandpasrose
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Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

You will still need to add the compost, rotted manure, mulched leaves, etc. as well as the wood ash to compensate for the over abundance of nitrogen. Wood ash will only change the PH of your soil and the level of potash, but not balance the level of Nitrogen/phosphoros/potash content. That's what the compost etc. will do for you. Also try adding some bone meal to the mix as well, and all of that should give you some of the phosphoros and potash to offset the nitrogen.
Your plant is only as good as the soil it's in, so if you fix up the soil with amendments, than your plant can't help but do better!
Feel free to drop back in if you have any questions, or just want to chat! :wink:

Val
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

opabinia51
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I think that if you add mulched up leaves, that they will do a good job of compensating for an excess of Nitrogen. Wood ash is good (in small amounts ) but, can harbour diseases and be toxic to plants in larger amounts.

grandpasrose
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Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

I don't think you could ever give lilacs too much wood ash Opa! I put buckets full of wood ash on my lilacs every year, and they just flourish. It is definitely the secret ingredient to making lilacs bloom - hands down! :wink:

Val
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

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I'm not aware of disease associated with wood ash. What's your sourcing Opa? Too much could change soil ph, I suppose, but that is not a disease...

HG

Michigan2Iowa
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Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Zone 5a
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I think one of the most important things to remember about adding wood ash to your lilacs is knowing what was burned in your fireplace.

NEVER burn treated or painted wood. There are residues that remain in the wood ash that can make it toxic. Also avoid starting your fires with chemical 'quick starters'. From what I understand they can contain chemicals that leave residue in your ashes as well.

I would agree with Scott and Val that you can't really over ash lilacs, as long as you're only burning "natrual" wood to create your ash.

The Helpful Gardener
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I think you're right Paul... :)

And Teal, you didn't kill that lawn, you just put it through withdrawal. All that four step stuff is how to build a junkie lawn that needs the shot in the arm or it gives up. I am in the process of weaning a lawn off drugs; my next store neighbor still uses the nasty stuff (driving all the nasty critters he keeps in business into my yard. The nematodes will eat well this spring...) Not to mention all the run-off pollution that gets in our lakes and streams from all this water soluable ammonia salts (ever hear of a plant that likes long term exposure to salt? There are some, but not in my garden or lawn...) Takes more and more just to keep place, let alone get a better yard...

That's another reason why we are teaching and preaching organics; sustainability. Sustainable practice means you, then your kids, then their kids can all do it the same way without hurting anyone down the line. Big fertilizer companies sell the wholesome family picture, but they are as family friendly as toxic waste (in my book they ARE toxic waste). I am still researching the best ways to treat my lawn, but I am willing to take anyone along for the ride who wants to go...

:D

Scott

tealwave
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Bring me along for the ride! The smell alone after a lawn has been treated is indication enough for me!!

We have been feeding (so I am told) cranberry girdlers for the past 3 years. Amongst my beautiful gardens and even though I put down copious amounts of seed every spring we have next to no grass back there!

By all means - keep us posted on your "education" it will better us all for the future!

opabinia51
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Hey Scott, I have read from several sources to be careful with wood ashes because they can harbour diseases. And after years of chemical study, I have learned that organic chemicals when, heated can form carcinogenic chemicals. That's where my comments came from.

Cheers. :)

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