Lilac Care
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Lilac is 9 Years Old but Only 2 Feet Tall

I need help with my Lilacs. My parents had a full grown 10' tall Lilac bush that flowered every year and was beautiful. My brother had a campfire and caught the leaves that were gathered at the base on fire and killed the entire bush. its been 9 years now and the bush is growing back very slowly. after 9 years the bush is still only 2 feet tall. it gets morning sun, and is a dry area, so i water at least once a week(try to) I have put a large bag of miracle grow on the base of it as mulch. and have used miracle grow with a feeder on the hose. It was not growing but an inch or so a year, for 4 years, and I started with the miracle grow and soil and it gained 2 feet in 3 years. it still seems quite slow. the ground under the surrounding grass is dry. I try to keep it watered. it grew very well before it got burned. anyone know what else I can do to get it to 6 feet tall and start blooming again? the area of the 2 foot tall bush, is 3 feet across and many sprouts so once it gets up there it will be a nice bush once again. the leaves were turning purple even during the summer, but once I started with the miracle grow, the leaves and new leaves became medium green and healthy. wondering if I need to take a crow bar and make a hole to the roots for the water to get further down, as the water doesnt soak in well? hate to hurt the roots. the old bushs' roots are spread too wide to dig up. guess I just gotta be patient and keep watering it weekly. never checked the ph, but it had always been an awsome plant. Im 47, and it was planted when I was a young child. My parents never watered it when it was mature and it thrived very well. as for miracle grow, I gave it once a month. the more I gave it, the better it did, but its now growing fast enough for me. lol, Im ready to dump a whole bag on it haha j/k

jritter
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Re: Lilac is 9 Years Old but Only 2 Feet Tall

Lilac Care wrote:I have put a large bag of miracle grow on the base of it as mulch. and have used miracle grow with a feeder on the hose.
What do you mean by you used Miracle Grow as a mulch? That's pretty extreme. First thoughts are that it's being killed with extreme doses of fertilizer. I never use fert on my Lilacs - never have. Compost is all that's needed (and it will improve your soil dramatically!!!)

As for water, they are relatively drought tolerant when established. I can't even remember the last time I had to water mine. That doesn't mean that water isn't an issue though. If you feel it's not getting enough water DO NOT drill down into the roots. You'll create air pockets which, if the fertilizer doesn't kill it, the air pockets WILL and you'll end up with tons of suckers. Instead, use a short soaker hose wrapped around the base a couple of times once a week in warmer weather for 1/2-1 hour. Compost will help with the water retention and absorption as well. Shouldn't need anything more than that regardless of the soil type.

Without pictures, I suspect there are other factors at play as well. My Lilacs grow an average of 1-2 feet per year and I prune regularly to keep them in shape (which also encourages growth). Any chance you can post some pics?

In the meantime, ground yourself from using Miracle Grow - it only masks issues while poisoning the soil. Think of it as "Doritos for Plants"

Lilac Care
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definiton on miracle grow as mulch

a bag of miracle grow brand potting soil as mulch, which has time release fertilizer.

Lilac Care
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miracle grow planting soil

a bag of miracle grow brand potting soil as mulch, which has time release fertilizer. another factor was, the lilacs was only receiving morning sunlight. the building that was blocking afternoon sun is now gone and this following year I hope will have better results. just looked at the bush a couple days ago and its only maybe 18 in. tall not 2 feet. theres probly too many suckers as you said about your own, so Im thinking thats a factor as well. really hate to clip any tho as they are spread over a 3.5 foot radius/diameter. just that at first few years after it got burned, it only grew an inch or so a year, I gave it miracle grow fertilzer and it perked up, and grew a couple inches a years. (maybe the PH isnt right) Im no green thumb. so i put a 2 yard bag of miracle grow soil as mulch hoping it will retain moisture and keep the weeds away more. yeah grass was over powering it the first few years as well. it is definitly getting better, Im hoping now that its "getting bigger" that it will take off faster. Ill post on the forum next summer and let everyone know.

jritter
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Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:20 pm
Location: Zone 8

Re: miracle grow planting soil

Lilac Care wrote:a bag of miracle grow brand potting soil as mulch, which has time release fertilizer. another factor was, the lilacs was only receiving morning sunlight. the building that was blocking afternoon sun is now gone and this following year I hope will have better results. just looked at the bush a couple days ago and its only maybe 18 in. tall not 2 feet. theres probly too many suckers as you said about your own, so Im thinking thats a factor as well. really hate to clip any tho as they are spread over a 3.5 foot radius/diameter. just that at first few years after it got burned, it only grew an inch or so a year, I gave it miracle grow fertilzer and it perked up, and grew a couple inches a years. (maybe the PH isnt right) Im no green thumb. so i put a 2 yard bag of miracle grow soil as mulch hoping it will retain moisture and keep the weeds away more. yeah grass was over powering it the first few years as well. it is definitly getting better, Im hoping now that its "getting bigger" that it will take off faster. Ill post on the forum next summer and let everyone know.
WHEW! I thought you meant actual fert as mulch!!! So there's hope. Here's what I'd suggest:

1. Don't fertilize. They shouldn't need it. If you see signs in the leaves or branches that indicate otherwise down the road, then you should, but not now.

2. Full sun is definitely a plus. They'll grow in moderate sun to partial shade, but will be leggy, struggling towards light.

3. Clip those suckers! They'll come back (guaranteed). They are taking away energy that you want to direct to your main (parent) plant.
Suckers are really only good for when you want to replace a stem or two. Other than that, they sap your plant's good and eventually create a bigger issue - shade. Try to keep it as open as possible.

4. Mulch will help with the water retention, but compost will help fix the soil itself. Keep in mind that mulch, including Miracle Grow, is largely composed of wood products. As these decay, they leech nitrogen from the soil, which your plants need. By amending your soil with compost, and then mulch on top, you're golden. The compost should fix most soil issues done properly.

Follow those tips, and I guarantee you'll see noticeable improvement. Enjoy the blooms, they're a-comin'!!!

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