How and when to prune lilac bushes?

How and when to Prune Lilac Bushes


When it comes to pruning lilac bushes, timing is everything. Pruning at the wrong time can lead to a decrease in the number of blooms and buds, while pruning at the right time can help maintain and even increase their beauty. This article will explain when is the best time to prune lilacs and how to do it properly.

Why Prune Lilacs?

Pruning lilacs is important for maintaining their health and beauty. Pruning helps encourage new growth, which in turn produces more blooms. It also helps control the size of your lilacs, as well as keeps them from becoming overgrown or too woody. Proper pruning can also help prevent disease and insect infestation.

When to Prune Lilacs

As a general rule for all lilacs, they should be pruned immediately after they’re done flowering in the spring. Since lilacs set next year’s flower buds right after the current year’s flowers have faded, pruning later in the summer or fall will result in cutting off many or all of next year’s flowers.

How to Prune Lilacs

Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches.

  • Cut away any suckers that are growing from the base of the plant.
  • Cut away any branches that are too close together.
  • Prune out any stems that are crossing or rubbing against each other.
  • Trim back any branches that are growing too long or too wide for your desired shape.
  • Remove any dead flower heads from last year’s blooms.

General Tips for Pruning Lilacs

When pruning your lilac bush, always use sharp pruning shears and make clean cuts just above a leaf node. When cutting away larger branches it is important to use lopping shears or a pruning saw instead of regular shears so you don’t damage the bark.

Specific Tips for Different Varieties

Common Purple Lilac

Common purple lilacs should be lightly pruned each Spring after flowering. Remove any dead wood, crossing branches, and those that are growing too large for your desired shape.

French Hybrid Lilac

French hybrid lilacs should be heavily pruned every 3-4 years during early spring before new growth begins. This type of heavy pruning helps promote new growth and more flowers for future years.

Japanese Tree Lilac

Japanese tree lilacs should be lightly pruned in late winter before new growth begins. If you want a denser tree shape then you can lightly trim it again during late summer after flowering has finished.


Pruning your lilac bush correctly and at the right time is essential for its health and vitality. By following these tips you will be able to keep your bush looking beautiful and ensure that it produces plenty of blooms every year!

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