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How to Transplant Lilac Bushes

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is an easy-growing shrub that will add beautiful color to a landscape in midspring. When you must move a lilac bush from one location to another, transplanting lilac bushes is a simple process. Move the lilac bush in the late winter or early spring when the lilac is still dormant to minimize trauma to the plant. Be sure that the bush will have full sun in the new location. Lilac bushes generally tolerate transplanting well.

Prepare the new planting location before you dig up the lilac bush. Dig a hole that will be two times as deep and wide as the current root ball of the lilac bush. Estimate this hole size until you see the actual size of the root ball.

Add one part compost to the soil you removed from the hole and mix the compost in well.

Dig up the lilac bush. Position the shovel approximately 1 foot outside of the outer perimeter of the shrub, and dig a circular perimeter around the entire shrub. Continue digging down until you can dig under the root ball without disturbing roots.

Lift the lilac bush up from the soil and carefully transfer it to the wheelbarrow. Have someone help if the lilac bush is too big to handle alone.

Move the lilac bush to the new planting location, and carefully set it into the hole. Fill soil and compost in around the bush, making sure the lilac bush will be at the same depth as it was previously growing. Finish adding soil and compost around the lilac bush until the added soil is even with the surrounding soil.

Firm the soil gently around the lilac bush with your hands.

Water the lilac bush generously with the garden hose.

Mix the fertilizer with water according to the package's instructions for the size of your lilac bush. Pour the fertilizer around the base of the lilac bush.

Keep the lilac bush evenly moist at all times for the first month after transplanting. Do not allow the soil to dry out.


Some lilac bushes respond to transplanting by not blooming the following spring; by transplanting when the bush is dormant, you minimize this risk.

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