How to Prune Lilac Bushes

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

If you have lilac bushes that are overgrown, it’s time to prune them! Follow these steps to prune your lilac bushes and keep them looking their best.

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Pruning lilac bushes is a task that should be done every year, in late winter or early spring. Lilacs can be pruned to maintain their shape, encourage new growth, or remove dead or diseased branches. The best time to prune lilacs is immediately after they have finished blooming.

The Right Time of Year to Prune

Pruning lilac bushes at the right time of year is important to encourage new growth and to ensure that your bush will bloom properly. In general, you should prune your lilac bush in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

There are two main types of pruning: shaping and rejuvenation. Shaping is generally done to maintain the size and shape of your bush, while rejuvenation is a more aggressive form of pruning that is typically done every 3-5 years to encourage new growth.

When shaping, you should remove any dead or damaged branches, as well as any branches that are rubbing against each other. You can also prune back any shoots that are longer than you would like them to be. It is important not to remove more than 1/3 of the total branches when shaping.

Rejuvenation pruning is done by removing all of the oldest branches down to the ground. This will encourage new growth from the base of the bush. Rejuvenation pruning should only be done every 3-5 years, as it can be quite stressful for the plant and can cause delays in blooming.

The Right Tools for the Job

Pruning shears are the tool most often used for pruning lilacs, but loppers may be necessary for larger branches. A pruning saw is also handy to have on hand for especially thick branches. When pruning, always use clean tools that have been sharpened within the last year to minimize damage to the plant.

Steps to Pruning Lilac Bushes

The best time to prune your lilac bushes is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. You’ll want to wait until after the threat of frost has passed in your area.

Before you start pruning, take a close look at your lilac bush. You’ll want to remove any dead or diseased wood, as well as any crossing or rubbing branches. It’s also a good idea to remove any suckers that are growing from the roots or base of the plant.

Once you’ve removed the dead, diseased, and crossing branches, you can start shaping your lilac bush. The best way to do this is by pruning outward-facing buds. This will encourage new growth and prevent the plant from becoming too dense. When pruning, make sure to use sharp, clean pruning shears.

After you’ve finished pruning, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help protect the roots and prevent weeds from growing.


Lilac bushes are a beautiful addition to any garden, and with proper care they will provide you with years of enjoyment. By following the simple pruning tips outlined above, you can keep your lilac bushes healthy and vibrant.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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