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?
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.)
Derryl Killan of Calgary wrote:
You will get flowers this year. It looks like you need to rejuvenate
Write to me at email@example.com and I will detail the steps you need
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