How To Help Out A Struggling Lilac Tree


Lilac trees, when they're in good health, can look absolutely striking with their dense green leaves and bright purple flowers. However, it's not uncommon for lilac trees to struggle and start looking a bit sparse. If your lilac tree appears to be suffering, here are three things you can do to help it out.

Have it trimmed.

Wait until the late winter to have your lilac tree trimmed. At this time, the tree's vascular system will be in a hibernation-type state, so the tree won't "bleed" or be as affected by the cuts. Have the tree care expert remove any old, dead, or damaged branches, as these just leech away nutrients that the tree could otherwise use to create and support new growth.  If you prune the tree yourself, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you don't do more harm than good:

  • Never remove more than ¼ of the tree's crown in a single year
  • Try to prune the tree in a way that maintains a single "leader" or main branch
  • Have your shears sharpened before pruning as sharp shears make cleaner cuts that heal faster

Fertilize your soil.

If your lilac tree grew well for a while and has now begun to look sad, it may be that the tree has depleted the soil of nutrients and is no longer getting the nutrition it needs. Purchase a balanced 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 fertilizer at your local home improvement store, and prepare it according to the instructions on the package. Remember that the tree's roots extend outward around the tree, so you want to spread the fertilizer in a wide circle around the tree rather than just pouring it near its base. Note that more is not always better in terms of fertilizer—resist the urge to over-apply, and adhere to the amounts recommended on the package.

Start watering the tree.

Mature trees don't usually require watering, since their roots extend deep beneath the earth's surface and can reach all of the water down there. But if your tree is ailing and you've noticed a lack of rain lately, watering the tree is helpful. Water in a wide circle around the tree's base, and also consider applying a layer of wood mulch around the base of the tree. The mulch will hold in moisture for longer and will also slowly decompose, adding nutrients back to the soil.

When a lilac tree starts looking a bit worse for wear, don't give up on it. With a good pruning, some fertilizer, and more watering, it should snap back into shape within the next growing season. For more information, contact an arborist in your area.


12 July 2016

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