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Old 06-11-2011, 02:15 AM
 
5,697 posts, read 19,073,907 times
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I moved in my house 2 yrs ago. Our first spring I was surprised to find that 3 very large shrubs were actually lilac bushes (obviously Im not a great gardener). They bloomed and the fragrance filled the house. Then I decided to trim them with a hedge trimmer. They did not bloom much the following spring. I was told I kind of ruined the blooms by trimming them like bushes when they are not.

I love the lilacs but the problem is they are huge. I have two next to the patio that have become one. It is over 12 feet high and 5 feet deep. The other lilac bush was about 10 feet high and 5 feet deep. Again very large. The one is on the corner of the house and basically buried my A/C unit so that is why I trimmed it every year. But this year its even bigger and completely took over the sidewalk that runs around the back of the house. The bush is in a landscape bed but the growth of the plant hangs over the sidewalk completely.

So anyway....I read on several garden forums that it needs to be cut way back to about 2-3 feet in height and the same in diameter. It stated to wait till it was done blooming and cut it back. Now its just a brown stick bush. It trunk seems healthy but no longer has green leaves on it. Its just a stick bush now. Then I found another forum that says not to do this till late winter. UGH. So did I kill it? Some say its almost impossible to kill a lilac. I need to cut back the one by the patio (which is actually 2 grown together) and over taking the patio. So I whack this one or wait? Will it develop leaves again over the summer or is it just sticks now?
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:53 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, 615' Elevation, Zone 8b - originally from SF Bay Area
44,096 posts, read 80,155,784 times
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You can cut a lilac down to one 12" long trunk with no branches and it will
put out all new growth and be blooming gain within 1-2 years. This should be done in winter so that spring triggers the new growth. Doing it later is more risky but you still may get some growth before winter. Since blooms are on the previous year's growth, you would normally prune by shortening 1/3 of the branches each winter until the desired height is achieved, so that the
other 2/3 still bloom. This one I chopped to a single trunk in January and I do not expect blooms until next year.
Attached Thumbnails
Did I kill it?-lilac.jpeg  
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:18 PM
 
5,697 posts, read 19,073,907 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bisjoe View Post
You can cut a lilac down to one 12" long trunk with no branches and it will
put out all new growth and be blooming gain within 1-2 years. This should be done in winter so that spring triggers the new growth. Doing it later is more risky but you still may get some growth before winter. Since blooms are on the previous year's growth, you would normally prune by shortening 1/3 of the branches each winter until the desired height is achieved, so that the
other 2/3 still bloom. This one I chopped to a single trunk in January and I do not expect blooms until next year.
Ugh...I guess I should have read more about them. We had a brutal winter and the weather has been odd since. I will wait before I trim the other two. I guess I will see what happens with the one I hacked.
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:38 PM
 
Location: Columbus, Ohio
1,413 posts, read 4,468,672 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fallingwater View Post
Ugh...I guess I should have read more about them. We had a brutal winter and the weather has been odd since. I will wait before I trim the other two. I guess I will see what happens with the one I hacked.

I did something similar when I moved into my house. We had a nice Lilac bush beside our garage and it was rubbing against our car when we pulled out. I hacked it and made it look ugly. This was towards the end of summer tho.

It came back where I hacked it and bloomed brilliantly. They are very resilient. So do not worry!!
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Old 06-11-2011, 11:58 PM
 
Location: rain city
2,957 posts, read 12,681,052 times
Reputation: 4973
Quote:
Originally Posted by fallingwater View Post
Ugh...I guess I should have read more about them. We had a brutal winter and the weather has been odd since. I will wait before I trim the other two. I guess I will see what happens with the one I hacked.
If you decide to trim your other lilacs, may I suggest pruning shears instead of a power hedge trimmer? Your bushes will thank you.
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Old 06-12-2011, 04:06 PM
 
Location: Between Heaven And Hell.
13,535 posts, read 9,943,397 times
Reputation: 16917
I would suggest a good pruning saw, you need good clean cuts to reduce the risk of disease getting in.
Something such as Arbrex, or whatever you have over there to seal the large wounds, would be good also.
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Old 06-12-2011, 04:09 PM
Status: "Mistress of finance and foods." (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
49,979 posts, read 63,301,795 times
Reputation: 92434
Quote:
Originally Posted by bisjoe View Post
You can cut a lilac down to one 12" long trunk with no branches and it will
put out all new growth and be blooming gain within 1-2 years. This should be done in winter so that spring triggers the new growth. Doing it later is more risky but you still may get some growth before winter. Since blooms are on the previous year's growth, you would normally prune by shortening 1/3 of the branches each winter until the desired height is achieved, so that the
other 2/3 still bloom. This one I chopped to a single trunk in January and I do not expect blooms until next year.
bisjoe, that is much too close to your foundation.
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