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How & When to Prune a Dwarf Korean Lilac Tree

Dwarf Korean Lilac, known botanically as Syringa meyeri and commonly as Meyer Lilac is a large shrub lilac that blooms profusely in the late spring. It is a fragrant, high performance and low maintenance lilac that does not suffer from the disease problems of other cultivars. It has a billowing and round natural growth habit that reaches 8 feet in height and 12 feet in spread. It is often planted en masse for informal hedging and screening shrubbery. Dwarf Korean Lilac rarely requires pruning, save to remove damaged or diseased wood or to control size.

Prune away damaged, diseased, crossing, abrading or otherwise compromised branches throughout the growing season as needed when you spy them. Place the cut down to the point of healthy plant tissue and just above a leaf node or bud.

Harvest fresh blooms for use in cut flower arrangements and deadhead spent blooms as desired throughout the growing season. While deadheading is not needed to encourage bloom it can help to keep the shrub looking tidy.

Prune for height and spread in the late spring or early summer immediately following bloom. Prune following the natural shape of the shrub and only remove what is necessary to prevent when your Meyer Lilac from encroaching on other plants or a structure. Cut away the tips of the branches to the desired length and collect all of the clippings from the soil surface.

Prune Dwarf Lilac Bushes

Dwarf lilacs -- various Syringa species and cultivars -- are prized for their clusters of fragrant blooms and a compact growth habit. Dwarf lilacs generally require much less pruning for shaping and height control than standard-size lilac trees and shrubs. Clean them this way between uses and between plants. Cut branches back selectively to shape the dwarf lilac bush as desired, removing no more than one-third of any stem and making a clean cut just above a bud facing in the desired direction. Cut one or two of the lilac's oldest stems back to the base of the plant if the shrub is several years old and becoming bare or scraggly looking at the base. This encourages the growth of new, vigorous stems. Prune off the problematic portions to just above a branch or bud growing in the desired direction. Dispose of any diseased portions you remove away from desirable vegetation. Remove all but one or two of the healthiest, strongest new shoots or suckers that grow at the base of the plant in late winter or early spring.


Remove no more than one-third of the lilac shrub mass in any one pruning session to prevent stress and shock from setting in.

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