Greg from Boston
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Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:14 pm
Location: near Boston

Drastic Pruning in Late Summer

Dear Friends,

This is my first time on this site. We have two large lilac bushes that have been overgrown for many years. I want to take them all to 3 feet off the ground and begin again.

Can I do this without hurting the plants? And can I do this now, in late summer, or should I wait until they finish blooming next May?

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

If you cut them back now, you will likely have no blooms next year. Lilacs start setting the buds for next year in late summer/early fall.

Wait until after they bloom next year to prune them. They don't respond real well to being sheared (all cut to an even height). It is better to cut a third of the oldest stems off at ground level. Do that for three years in a row and you will have an entirely rejuvenated plant that still has a natural configuration.

But you do want to dead head it each year. That is, once the flowers are spent cut them all off before they set seed. Lilacs tend to only bloom well every other year, unless they are deadheaded.
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