Autumn lilac pruning
I'm a freelance gardener and a client insists that I cut back her lilac this month. I'm in Southwest Ohio. The lilac stands nearly six feet tall and didn't bloom at all this year and I suspect is mostly dead, as all the branches are gray and brittle with no new growth this year. None of the plants on the property have been pruned for years and hoping it's just suffering from neglect and might bounce back after a rigorous pruning. She's comfortable with taking it as low as the severe height of 6-8" of that will inspire new growth next season. Should I do it and hope for the best?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Severe pruning, or rejuvenation pruning, typically works well to bring old lilacs back. Your plan is generally good, but the best time to do this is thought to be in winter and early spring when the plant is dormant. However, less drastic pruning in the fall is fine too.
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