Organic Garden Guide: Renovating And Moving Lilacs
In case you have not pruned your favorite lilacs for several years and want to spruce them up, be sure that you will have to cope with a miniature jungle of suckers. In fact, pruning the lilac heavily will promote the growth of more suckers. Hence, you need to prune a dense and unkempt lilac from time to time. As the lilac shrubs usually take about three years to grow anything between 9 and 15 shoots, you should prune about a third of the plant annually.
Like in the case of regular pruning, you may undertake the task of renovating neglected and unkempt lilac shrubs during spring just after their flowering season. However, if a plant requires immediate renovation, you may also do so at any other time of the year. However, when you renovate lilacs any time except spring, you should know that you will be losing much of the blooms in the following season. When you have completed renovating the overgrown lilac shrub, prune it regularly every year.
In case a lilac shrub is in a very shabby condition, prune the plant to just one or two inches higher than the ground. Even when you cut back the plant so heavily, you can expect it to continue flowering normally after two years. However, you should be careful not to prune grafted lilacs so heavily. You can only prune them heavily when you are certain that the plant has developed roots above the grafting joint. If a lilac in your garden is very old and you decide that it is not worth reviving or saving, you may employ any means to propagate a new healthy plant, either by taking cuttings or by layering the old plant.
As in the case of moving any other shrub or tree, it is easiest to move the lilacs when they are still young. Once the plants have become mature and their roots have spread wide, transplanting becomes difficult, as the chances of damaging the roots increase when you dig the ground to lift the tree. At the same time, mature plants or trees are heavier and difficult to relocate.
On the other hand, different from many other shrubs and trees, lilacs do not loathe being uprooted, particularly the species and hybrids that have a tendency to sucker. When you are contemplating to move a large lilac shrub or tree, cut off some roots of the plant in advance – preferably many months before the actual day of transplanting the lilac. Use a sharp spade to mark a circle in around the lilac shrub/ tree. The circle should be drawn as far as the tips of the plant’s branch extend. In case, this is very wide, draw the circle as far as the extent of the root ball, which you will be able to lift to transplant the lilac.
After drawing the circle, divide it into six equal segments. Next, use the sharp spade to cut right down in three alternating segments to the extent you can. On the day of moving the lilac, dig down across the roots lying under the remaining three segments of the circle and lift the root ball. Cut the underground roots of the lilac as required. People who grow large lilacs usually make use of a front-end loader that has the ability to lift sufficiently large root mass to avoid cutting the lilac roots in advance. Irrespective of the method you use to move the plant, it is necessary to water the lilac deeply immediately after transplanting it. Subsequently, you should water the plant once every week for the remaining season. In fact, you need to water the transplanted lilac shrub or tree in the same manner as you would water a lilac plant bought and planted anew.
In case you don’t want to transplant the entire lilac shrub or tree you can just get rid of the rooted suckers. In fact, this is considered to be the ideal way to obtain lilacs growing in the wild – along the roads or in fields. If you are dealing with a non-suckering lilac species or cultivar, take the cuttings or root layers.
At times, it is necessary to shift a lilac shrub or tree from a place where it has been growing merrily for several years to a different location. This may become necessary when you are expanding your home or construct an extension of the porch. Then again, it may be possible that the trees growing in the region of your favorite lilac have become so big that the lilac does not receive enough sunlight required for blooming copiously anymore. Irrespective of the reason for moving the lilac, you should not be too concerned, because these plants are not only extremely hardy but can also adjust themselves to transplantation quite well. Following the steps mentioned below will make your job easier.
Timing the Move
Spring is the best time to transplant lilac. In fact, lilacs start growing well again when they are transplanted just before they bloom in spring. Before transplanting lilacs, you need to ensure that the plant is ready for robust new growth and even the weather is sufficiently cool so that the lilac does not suffer a transplant shock. In case you are unable to move and transplant the lilac during spring, you can do so in fall, which is the next most suitable time to transplant lilacs. Preferably you should wait till the leaves have turned yellow and dropped on the ground.
Cutting the Roots
In case the lilac you want to transplant is a large and well-established tree, it is advisable that you start cutting through the roots of the lilac quite a few months prior to the actual moving time. This will prove to be useful for the tree to readjust itself in the new location. In such cases, it is essential to plan in advance. For instance, mark a circle around the lilac tree using a string. You may use the foliage’s width as a guide, provided this does not produce a root ball, which will be very heavy to move.
Selecting the New Location
Sufficient sunlight is essential for lilacs to bloom. Ideally, you should plant your lilacs in such places that receive sunlight for several hours every day. Apart from the sun, it is also important to grow lilacs in a well-drained soil. If you water lilacs excessively or grow them in places having wet dirt, it will definitely kill the plants. While transplanting lilac, ensure that the new planting hole is two times that of the root ball of the shrub in width, but not much deeper than the root ball. Moreover, you also need to ensure that the lilac is planted at a depth same as what it was in its previous location. Blend the soil with compost before transplanting, as it will facilitate the growth of the lilac in the new location.
Digging Up the Lilac
On the day you move the lilac to its new location, you need to cut through the other three sections of the chalk circle you had earlier marked around the tree/ shrub. First, plow the earth around the lilac to make a trench with a view to allowing the shovel to move more freely while excavating the plant. Commence digging from under the lilac tree/ shrub with the aim of retaining as many roots of the plant as possible. Once the tree has been loosened from the ground, glide a few burlap sacks below the root ball. The burlap sacking can be used to help you to cover the root ball and drag the tree to the location where you want to transplant it.
Replanting the Tree
Before concluding, lilac trees should be transplanted in a new planting hole having appropriate width and depth, root ball covered with burlap sacking and with proper care. Even when left underground, the burlap sacking will not decay easily. Ensure that after transplanting the lilac tree, you fill the planting hole with a soil and compost mixture. Moreover, the tree should be planted to the same depth as its previous location. After transplantation, it is also important to water the tree thoroughly and subsequently at regular intervals, possibly once in a week, with a view to facilitating the re-establishing the roots of the lilac tree in the new site during the first season.