How to Transplant a Lilac Bush & Tree


The lilac bush is a flowering plant from the same family as the olive tree. It is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 32 feet tall. The tree sprouts flowers in the springtime, usually purple, pink or white in color. Lilacs can survive for many years, and eventually, depending on landscaping plans, the plant may need to be moved. Planning a lilac move at least a couple years ahead is best, as you will need to adapt the tree for transplant before the move.

Step 1

Prune the roots of the lilac bush back two years before the move, pruning in the fall. Measure the trunk diameter at waist height, then measure out from the tree 9 inches for every inch of trunk diameter. Cut the roots at this point.

Step 2

Transplant during the dormant season of early spring or fall, after the leaves have dropped.

Step 3

Tie the branches of the tree to the trunk when you are ready to move the plant and dig around the plant 6 inches away from the root line. Dig a hole that is 18 inches deep around the plant until the plant is loose.

Step 4

Place the burlap bag to the side of the tree and lift it onto the burlap bag. Tie the bag around the dirt and roots to protect them during the move.

Step 5

Dig a hole for the lilac transplant in your new location and place the tree into it. Refill the hole with dirt and water well.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Compost
  • Shears
  • Spade
  • Burlap bag
  • Heavy twine


  • Purdue Unversity Cooperative Extension: Planting and Transplanting Landscape Trees and Shrubs
  • North Dakota State University: Questions on Lilacs
  • New Mexico State University: Moving a Lilac
Keywords: transplant lilac, lilac bush, lilac tree

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.