How to Prune Lilac

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Pruning a lilac tree is similar to pruning any other fruit tree, which requires thinning out the highest branches to encourage more sunlight to reach the inner branches. Trim back a lilac tree each year, never more than one-third, for the most possible blossoms with instructions from a sustainable gardener in this free video on gardening.

Part of the Video Series: Gardening: Pruning
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Video Transcript

Hi this is Yolanda Vanveen and in this segment we are going to talk about how to prune a lilac tree. Lilac trees are so beautiful and they produce such beautiful flowers and bloom in the late Spring. They just smell so wonderfully and I just wish I could bottle up the actual lilac fragrance because any of the other synthetic fragrances don't do it justice. This is a wonderful plant. But there is a few rules you should follow when you're pruning your lilac tree and it's not that different from pruning any type of a fruit tree. So when you're pruning any kind of a fruit tree the goal is to cut out a lot of the random branches towards the top of the tree because those are usually the more fruit branches that is going to produce the more fruit and you want to thin it out about one third the size each year and that way it won't just get tall and lanky and it will fill up and you'll get a lot more fruit quicker and so just by cutting out the lighter colored branches you can get a lot more fruit and you just trim them out and even it out so there is more sun that gets into the middle branches and the tree will do much better. If you have a fruit tree that has been established and it's really tall and not producing fruit and you have not pruned it very much then you can actually cut out some of the top branches and what you are making is called a vase cut. By doing that you are forcing most of the growth back down to the bottom part of the tree and you'll get a lot more fruit for the next year. So when you're pruning any type of a tree you want to be really careful to cut it at the right angle. For example if it's a large branch you want to cut first at one side and then the other side and then you're cutting that whole heavy branch off because if you just cut from one angle it might actually hurt some of the bark and get into the main trunk and you never want to hurt the main trunk because you will lose a tree if it gets too damaged and you don't want to cut it too far out either where the CD cut is because what happens is then it gets too much moisture and it will rot and there is too much dead material. You want to cut it right at a little bit of an angle leaving one to two inches right at where the tree is reading with the main trunk. Same thing you never want to cut right up to the trunk line and make a solid cut because what happens is the tree gets very damaged and sometimes it will eventually kill the tree because it doesn't have bark to protect the trunk and that is what is needed. So by pruning your lilac tree just one third down and cutting out any of the dead branches or the lengthy branches each Fall or Winter you will end up with lots more blooms the following year and it is very rewarding to have a lilac in your garden.

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