How to prune lilacs

by Natasha Starkell | 20.01.2014 | 3 steps | easy | 10 - 20 Min. | Rating: 2 votes

So common that you can't imagine spring without its fragrance.

Syringa, also commonly known as lilac, is a very common plant, and if you’ve inherited a garden, then you may well find lilacs hidden away amongst the foliage. Luckily, lilacs are one of those plants which grow relatively slowly and only ever require a light prune. So, if you forget to cut back one year, it doesn’t really matter.

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Plants
lilacs
Tools
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
prune lilacs in late minter

prune lilacs in late minter

lilac pruning: do not remove too many branches

Step 1

Prune lilacs in late winter

Lilacs are best pruned in the late winter. Be careful not to prune lilacs back too hard, unless you would like to dramatically reducing a plant’s size. Cutting off a large number of branches means it’ll be years before your lilac reaches its original size again.

Items:
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
lilacs
cut above the healthy bud - pruning lilacs

cut above the healthy bud - pruning lilacs

How to prune lilacs - cutting off branches

Step 2

Remove diseased or crossed branches

The best thing to do is to remove just dead, diseased or crossed branches, as well as shoots growing in the wrong directions. Take each flowered stem in your hand and trace back to a healthy bud below the current year’s growth. Use sharp secateurs to make a clean cut directly above the healthy bud. 

pruning lilacs cut off faded blooms

pruning lilacs cut off faded blooms

Lilacs pruning made easy - cutting off faded blooms

Step 3

Remove faded blooms

If you want to tidy your plant up after flowering, snip off the faded flowers, taking care not to cut away new buds. Lilacs flower on their growing tips, so by all means remove blooms, but be sure to leave the actual stem untouched if you want it to grow.

Plants
lilacs
Tools
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
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