Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pruning Lilac Bushes

Since Lilacs were the May’s Flower of the Month I thought it fitting to discuss their pruning.
 
Do you prune Lilac bushes?  And when?  These are very valid questions because if you prune a spring flowering bush at the incorrect time, you may eliminate next year’s blooms all together. And this is absolutely true with Lilacs.
 
Like most spring-blooming plants the lilac starts creating its flower buds in the summer and early fall for the following year. So the best time to prune is during and immediately after their normal blooming seasons.  The neat thing is Lilacs don’t necessarily need a lot of pruning.  They are happiest when you cut off the blooms and take them indoors. By removing the flowers you are deadheading and pruning at the same time.
 
The exception to the rule, as is with most bushes you prune, is you need to cut out and remove dead, damaged, or diseased wood. As the bush gets older, some of its branches can be cut by one-third, but if the bush isn’t overgrown, than this isn’t necessary either.  So I’d say leave it as is.
 
Usually with full sun, good air circulation, and deadheading of old blooms, Lilac bushes will produce large numbers of highly fragrant flowers year after year.  And who doesn’t love the smell of Lilacs in the spring?
 
So this year as your lilac bushes begin to bloom, simply cut a bunch for inside and let their fragrance fill your home. (If they’re in bloom now, don’t forget Sunday is Mother’s Day!) Then, if there are any left on the bush, deadhead them as the blooms begin to fade.
 
Here’s a tip for keeping your blooms alive longer once inside:  before putting the stems into a vase filled with water, take a hammer and crush the ends on a hard surface.  This makes it easier for them to drink water and prevents wilting.
 
Now that you have them indoors, stop what you’re doing and INHALE!  They will reward you for your pruning efforts!

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