Is it time to prune your lilac tree? Adding a lilac tree to your yard or property is a terrific idea, but it is critical that you care for it properly. One of the things you’ll do regularly is prune it. To prune a lilac tree does’nt have to be difficult or complicated, but you do need to do it correctly. Here are some guidelines on how to best care for some of the most popular species of lilac trees.
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How to Prune a Lilac Tree
Who can resist the sweet scent of a lilac tree? On our farm we have many lilac trees growing all over the property. Every May they produce lovely fragrant blooms in shades of white, purple and pink. Come June, the pretty flowers have all turned brown and are ready to be trimmed off. When you know how to properly prune your lilac, your tree will produce, bigger, healthier flowers every year.
When to Prune a Lilac Tree
Pruning your lilac tree is vital to its overall health. Don’t neglect this gardening chore! Lilacs bloom in the spring and you’ll want to prune your lilac tree two times per year: during the winter months and then following its lovely spring bloom.
When you prune a tree or plant, you are removing branches and stems which will help your lilac tree grow bigger and stronger than ever before. Your goal is to get rid of any branches that appear to be dead, wilted, damaged or vulnerable to disease. While insects may have attacked a few branches, if you can prune them off, the rest of your lilac tree is protected as long as you remain watchful.
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Supplies Needed for Pruning a Lilac Tree
- Pruning shears
- Thick gloves
How do you Dead Head a Lilac Tree?
You don’t have to dead head lilacs all the time. The best time to do this is in its earliest years. Your lilac tree will be blooming in the first 2 to 3 years and you should dead head it as soon as the flowers fade and die.
When you dead head your lilac tree, you remove older flowers and help your tree focus it’s energy on new growth.
Dead heading lilacs is simple. Grasp the dead flower at the end of the bloom, where the stem begins, with a firm but gentle touch. You’ll want to remove the dead lilac flower, but to keep the leaves and stem right where they are.
Why Isn’t my Lilac Blooming?
One challenge some lilac tree lovers face is that they have planted their tree in a spot that just doesn’t get enough bright sunlight. To grow beautiful lilacs, you’ll need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight every day. Observe where your tree is and note how much sun it gets as the time passes through the day. You may need to move the tree to a sunnier spot in the yard.
Don’t neglect pruning your lilac tree. You will want to prune your lilac at the ideal times: in winter and then also right after spring when the most lilacs have bloomed. While some consider pruning a simple gardening chore that takes up their time, you are actually helping the tree’s growth and long-term health.
How Much Can You Cut Back Lilacs?
It is best to remove between 1/4 and 1/3 of the lilac tree’s biggest stems, before it has had a chance to bloom in the spring. You want to keep about a dozen bigger stems untouched.
In the spring after it has bloomed, when you cut it back again, trim your lilac tree to one foot shorter than the height you want it to reach during springtime. When you prune a lilac tree, you want to give it as much of a chance to be healthy and strong. Cutting it back like this is helpful to your lilac tree.
How do you Dead Head a California Lilac?
With a California lilac, it is ideal to dead head your tree, when you notice the old blooms wither and die. Removing them will help next year’s blooms appear vibrant and fresh. This is most often done in late spring to early summer.
Grasp the lilac bloom gently, where the flower just meets the stem. Keep the leaves and the stem right on the tree but remove the flower entirely.
How do you Prune a Dwarf Lilac Tree?
Pruning a lilac tree takes a bit of time and effort. You’ll be please to know if you have a dwarf lilac tree, that this species is actually much simpler to care for than some of the others.
You’ll want to dead head any of the blooms that you see at the end of the season, so that next year’s lilacs will be certain to be fragrant and vibrant in color. In pruning your dwarf lilac tree, cut the branches back a bit, ideally only by 1/3 at the most. If you have any overgrown branches, then you may need to control these with more vigorous pruning.
One of the things you’ll need to do with a dwarf lilac tree is to shape it. It’s best to shear it after it has bloomed in the springtime, so you can keep the tree looking it’s very best.
It’s easy to see that pruning is not a gardening task that will take much time or even a tremendous amount of effort, but is one that will provide you with great results. Year after year, your lilac tree will continue to bloom, beautiful & fragrant lilacs for your family and friends to admire. Always remember to prune your lilac trees!
- Lilac tree
- Pruning shears
- Thick garden gloves
- Dead-head dead flowers immediately after they die on the tree. The buds for the next year grow right away and you may accidentally cut off next year's blooms if you wait too long before trimming.
- Cut no more than 1/3 of the tree's stems each year.
- Trim stems that are more than 2 inches in diameter.
- Remove dead or diseased branches.
- Remove new suckers growing at the base of the tree.