My lilac trees aren’t looking good. What can I do?
I have three lilac trees. All three of them are very thinned out, not many buds. What can I do? Are they dead? They are all in a sunny spot.
Kate Garland, Horticultural Professional
Lilacs typically do well in windy and salty sites. If your plants haven’t had any signs of disease and the plants receive at least eight hours of full sun, then I’m thinking there’s an issue with soil pH or the nutrient levels. Have you had your soil tested?
Windy and salty sites are not ideal for evergreen azaleas, but hardy varieties are known to survive quite well if planted in protected areas on your property. These seem to still have quite a bit of life in them, so there’s hope. The older one you transplanted last year will need to be watered regularly (1″/week) throughout this next growing season. Same applies to the newly planted azalea. If the newly planted one is in an exposed part of your landscape, I would transplant it to a better location as soon as possible. It would be best for the plants to pinch off the flowers just after they open so the plants can allocate as much energy as possible to developing better root systems and not develop seed. Soil testing around these plants will be a good idea as well. Be sure to not apply any fertilizers to your shrubs after mid July.