How to Prune Lilac Bushes Video
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Video:How to Prune Lilac Bushes

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Pruning your lilac bushes is the best way to ensure a long, healthy life for these beautiful plants. Learn the basics of this pruning technique and flex your green thumb today!See Transcript

Transcript:How to Prune Lilac Bushes

Hi! I'm Sheri Silver and I'm a landscape designer here in Westchester County, New York.  My design firm is and I also write the blog Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt.  I'm here today with to show you how to prune a lilac bush.

Everybody Loves Lilacs!

Everybody loves lilacs.  They're beautiful, they smell great, and they mean that spring is here, but it is important to prune your lilac bush on a regular basis so that you get that profuse flush of blooms every year and so that the lilac maintains its shape and size. 

To Rejuvenate a Lilac...

So this is a very mature old lilac that I inherited when I bought the house.  It has never been pruned and as you can see, the blooms are way up high, too high to really reach and enjoy.  So this is a sign of a lilac that needs to be pruned.  So the best time to rejuvenate a lilac or prune it is right after it stops blooming. 

You want to get to it rather quickly before it starts to set buds for the following season and what you want to do is you want to take a third of the branches out every season.  So that after 3 years, you've taken out all of the old disease and wayward stems and these are the types of stems that you should be looking at to prune.

Continue to Prune

You want to prune out any twiggy stems that are just sticking out and kind of awkward.  You also want to prune any branches that are crossing one another.  So here is an example of 2 branches that are crossing.  You also want to cut down any branches that are more than 2 inches thick. 

This branch is just about to be more than 2 inches, so I would not use my pruners for this.  I would get out my saw and cut this one down, once it's larger than 2 inches in diameter.

Here is an example of a lilac bush that is pretty perfect shape and size, about 6 feet high.  You really don't want it more than 6-8 feet high.  It is a great size and shape for reaching the buds and being able to cut them and bring them in doors.  The shrub behind it is an example of a lilac that is very overgrown, that is only blooming at the very top and has a lot of disease and wayward branches that need to be taken down. 

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