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Lilacs not blooming? See if they get enough light

Lilacs not blooming? See if they get enough light

Lilacs in bloom are a lush, purple highlight on a home landscape, but if your lilac bush didn’t bloom this year, horticulturalist Mark Viette of Viette Nurseries in Augusta County has a solution.

“Over time other trees and plants may have grown up around your lilac shrub and are not allowing enough light to reach it,” Viette said. “It’s important to make sure your shrub is getting all-day sun or at least sun from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.”

Pruning is a good way to get light to your lilac.

“March is the ideal time to prune, but really any time in the late winter, before the lilac flowers and while the shrub has no leaves will work,” Viette said. “You also can wait until a little flowering and prune it sometime in April or May.”

You don’t have to dramatically cut the bush, he said. Just thin out the old growth.

“You want to semi-rejuvenate your lilac. Thin it out every year by removing two out of every 10 branches.”

You also can cut the entire shrub to the ground, he said, and it should grow back nicely in about two-and-a-half years.

When pruning, focus on the older branches, so your shrub is always producing new ones. Pruning older growth has an additional benefit if you like to bring cut lilac blossoms indoors. New growth will give you longer, more slender stems for cutting.