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How to prune Lilacs

Lilacs are cherished for their vibrant blooms and enchanting fragrance, making them a beloved addition to gardens and landscapes across Manitoba. To ensure these beauties thrive and produce abundant flowers, Knowing how to prune is essential. Pruning lilacs might seem daunting at first, but with the right techniques and timing, you can maintain healthy, vigorous plants that will grace your garden with their splendour year after year.

Know when to prune Lilacs

 Timing is crucial when it comes to pruning lilacs. The best time to prune is immediately after the flowers have faded in late spring or early summer. Pruning at this time allows the plant to recover and develop new growth that will support the next season's blooms. If you prune too late in the season, you risk cutting off the buds for the next year, resulting in fewer flowers.

How to prune Wisteria

The Pruning Process

Start by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased wood, which helps prevent the spread of disease and encourages healthy growth. Next, focus on thinning the plant to improve air circulation and light penetration, which are vital for flower production and reducing the risk of mildew. Remove the oldest canes at ground level, as these are less productive and can hinder the growth of younger, more vigorous shoots. Aim to leave a mix of canes of varying ages to ensure a continuous display of flowers.  

Sometimes, Lilacs can look beautiful from the outside, but are overgrown and bare in the inner part of the plant; for overgrown lilacs, rejuvenation pruning might be necessary. This involves cutting the entire shrub down to about 6-8 inches above ground level. Although this drastic measure sacrifices blooms for a season or two, it revitalizes the plant, leading to a healthier and more manageable shrub in the long run.


Caring for Your Pruned Lilacs

After pruning, give your lilacs some TLC. Apply a balanced fertilizer (we recommend our Tree Shrub and Perennial Plant Food!) to support new growth and water the plants thoroughly, especially if the weather is dry. Mulching around the base of the shrub can help retain moisture and suppress weeds, further benefiting the plant's health.

Pruning lilacs is a rewarding task that, when done correctly, results in a robust and floriferous shrub. By understanding the best time to prune and following proper techniques, you can enjoy a stunning display of lilac blossoms that add beauty and fragrance to your garden each spring.


Now that you know how to prune Lilacs, which variety should you choose to grow? 

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris): This is perhaps the most well-known variety, cherished for its classic lilac scent and abundant clusters of blossoms. It typically blooms in late spring and comes in a range of colors, from the traditional lavender to white and even deep purple. The Common Lilac is highly valued for its hardiness and ability to withstand the cold Manitoba winters. It also has a long lifespan and can grow to be quite large, often used as a standalone ornamental shrub or in hedges.

Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata): Unlike the more common shrub-like varieties, the Japanese Tree Lilac grows as a small tree, reaching heights of up to 30 feet. It blooms in early summer with large, creamy-white flower panicles that have a subtle, sweet fragrance. This variety is highly valued for its ornamental appeal and adaptability to urban environments, making it a popular choice for street plantings and larger landscapes.


When you visit our store, you can choose from our selection of Lilacs and find the necessary tools to prune them properly.