Lilac Bushes

Lilac Suckers

krenekluu added on April 15, 2015 | Answered

Should I keep removing lilac suckers on stumps of recently severely pruned lilac tree/bush? I have a beautiful lilac tree/bush that is almost 20 years old. About 6 years ago, the blooms started to get more sporadic. I am a rather new gardener and did a poor job of trying to prune the lilac in order to perk it up and it was recommended to cut it to ground and let it grow back up again. It has been a year and I can see at least 8 really nice looking suckers almost 12 inches tall! I don"t know if I am supposed to remove the little suckers that are trying to grow directly on the stumps that are close to the ground (about 6 inches above). Would they actually become a strong plant or would the stump be a weak place to start from?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on April 15, 2015

All of the suckers have the potential to develop into new flowering branches.

Here is an extension article that gives advice on what to do with lilac shoots after a severe pruning. It says to "select and retain several strong, healthy shoots to form the shrub framework and remove all the others at ground level. Head (cut) back the retained shoots to just above a bud to encourage branching."

For future reference: When doing annual pruning of lilacs you are supposed to cut out 1/4 to 1/3 of the oldest branches and suckers, leaving the strongest trunks and the strongest suckers.

For more information on pruning lilac bushes, please visit the following link:

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