This week I got a lot of questions about lilac. I think this is because they just stopped blooming. The most popular question was, Can you prune? The answer: Yes, and it's a great time to do this.
If you prune lilac now, you can remove one-third of the plant by pruning right to the ground. This will encourage new shoots. These new shoots take about three years to flower.
Here are a few don'ts. First, stay away from hedge trimmers. Lilacs are not a hedge, and they don't look natural as one. That said, you can make a lilac screen; just leave them alone to look more natural. Prune selectively; don't prune all at once. Take a step back and look at the plant after a few cuts. This will help ensure you keep the rounded shape.
To create a thick, bushy plant, let some of the suckers (the new growth at the bottom) grow. It's a balance between keeping the plant full and not letting it get too unruly.
At the very least, you should remove the spent flowers before they go to seed. The new flower buds will form very quickly in July, and you want the energy of the plant to go there -- not to the making of seeds.
Finally, give your lilac a handful of garden lime. Lilacs like sweeter soil, just like your lawn does.
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