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Why Is My Lilac Dying?

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Lilac bushes are known as particularly hardy plants and are relatively easy to take care of. However, if you notice your lilac is not blooming regularly, leaves are falling off or you notice wilting, your lilac may be dying. Do a little detective work to figure out the cause.


A lilac must have exposure to full sun. If the lilac is getting partial or shaded sunlight, it can cause wilting and flowers will not bloom. Though it will take some time, eventually, under-exposure to sunlight will kill the plant. Either cut overgrowth above the bush or transplant the plant to a sunnier area to prevent damage due to low light.


Lilac bushes do not need much fertilization and if you are using a strong chemically based fertilizer, the plant may die from overfertilization. If you believe this has happened, try replacing some of the fertilized soil with regular soil. Going forward, fertilize your lilac only with natural products such as compost and then only sparingly.


Pests like aphids or ladybugs can destroy the foliage on your lilac, which can kill it over time. To get rid of pests, you can spray the lilac bush once a week with an over-the-counter pesticide. If you still see pests after one to two months, you will need to call a professional exterminator.


Lilac bushes grow to be quite large and can have roots that grow 6 to 9 feet underground. If you have a lot of bushes in the area, they can strip the soil of nutrients. When this problem occurs, lilac bushes can shrink and then they will start showing signs of malnutrition (spotting, wilting, etc.) To solve this problem, either transplant the lilac or uproot the plants that are too close to it.

Save A Dying Lilac Bush

A dying lilac bush may appear weak or yield only a few spring blooms. Rake away any dead branches and leaves, along with mulch, from the base when you notice the bush looks unhealthy in early spring after the growing season begins. Generally, you want the pH level to be around 7.0, but it is acceptable for lilac bush soil to be one-tenth of a point or so higher than that. Inspect the bush for pests and diseases. Using garden shears, cut all other branches about 1 inch from the ground. Remove string from remaining bushes. Use a fertilizer with a 5-10-5 nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium ratio on older plants that are not blooming. It is also important that the bush not be underwatered, as it will not thrive in dry soil. If the leaves are wilted or folding, watering is required. Or, scrape the top edge of the soil to check for dampness. Watch for new buds on the branches the following spring.

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