Pruning Lilacs

Image by Serenethos courtesy iStock

While it might feel counterintuitive, consistent yearly pruning is key to promoting stronger growth and more prolific flowering in your lilacs. And now is the time to do it. Pruning is also an opportunity to shape the growth habit of your lilac, whether you prefer a taller, tree-like form or a shorter denser shrub. Check out our tips for best lilac-pruning practices below.

We love this helpful illustration courtesy of Fine Gardening. 

  • Remove dead wood - it’s not coming back.

  • Cut out crossing branches: Repeated rubbing between two branches can cause wounds which invites sickness/fungi to infect the shrub. Choose whichever of the two branches contributes best to the overall shape of the shrub and lop off the other.

  • Prune off or deadhead spent bloom panicle.

  • Thin out the weakest stems.

  • Remove wayward growth.

  • Like much of gardening, pruning is more of an art and less of a science — don’t overthink it, just go for it!