Neglected lilac bushes

I'm still helping my friend who bought a house with neglected gardens.
We've worked out the forsythia bush/maple tree problem (thanks, everyone) and now we've discovered a lilac bush that probably hasn't been touched or trimmed or even had a flower cut off of it in YEARS. I know you should deadhead lilacs when they finish blooming and this is certainly not the time to cut anything if we want flowers in the spring. My question is: is there any chance he will get flowers this year with the old, dead, seed heads still on the branches? What is the best approach? Since this is the first spring with his new garden, if there is any chance that even one flower will bloom, we don't want to ruin it. Should we just sit and wait and see what happens and then do the trimming in late spring as it should be done?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Lilacs have flowered for tens of thousands of years without being "deadheaded", so you will likely get some flowers.
Lilacs bloom on new wood, and most are grafted plants, so the rule of thumb for pruning lilacs is to prune after flowering. With lilacs, you also need to take out all suckers (the plants that come up around the roots away from the main plant), and then every ten years or so, take out 1/3 of the "old wood" each year for three years. ("Old wood" is the thick gnarly heavy-barked wood)
I would remove the suckers now, and I also would remove the non-keeper branch of any "rubbing" --- bark-removing-rubbing --- branches now, and I would wait to prune the main plant until just after blooming. (You can remove the flowered stem just after blooming, if you wish. The theory is that the available food will be put into new growth rather than making seeds, but the plants haven't told anyone they are spendy and must use every available nutrient in order not to have a nervous breakdown - and they haven't said they don't, either. The seeds there now are already made, and won't affect the next bloom which comes on the two branches on either side of the seed pod branch.)
fwiw
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to write that all up, hob!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
FragileWarrior wrote:
Derryl Killan of Calgary wrote:
You will get flowers this year. It looks like you need to rejuvenate the Lilac.
Write to me at snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca and I will detail the steps you need to take.
Derryl Horticulturist

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.