Japanese ivory lilac transplant shock


I have a Japanese ivory lilac plant that I transplanted 3 months back, it is about 4 feet tall. It is present in my front yard with full sun 6 to 8 hrs. I have been watering 2 to 3 times/week and added mulch and fertilizer as well. I see that the plant is in transplant shock as it is not growing with droopy leaves. What can I do now to revive the plant.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.  Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’ or ‘Ivory Silk’ Japanese Tree Lilac is a compact tree reaching a height of about 20 to 30 feet.  It features creamy white flowers in early summer.  These lilacs tolerate a range of soil conditions but prefer well-drained soils.  All trees experience a certain amount of transplant shock but the transplant shock in this instance seems to be more serious.  Here are some factors for you to consider as you attempt to save your tree:

Damaged roots: Your tree might have had a damaged root system and this would make it more susceptible to transplant shock.

Soil amendments: When planting a tree adding soil amendments such as peat moss to the back fill can create problems. If you have heavy soil, lighter soil amendments can result in trapped water which will suffocate the roots.

Planting depth: Deep planting can suffocate roots while shallow planting will make the roots susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and moisture.

Watering: Appropriate watering is the key to the establishment of newly planted trees. Over watering or under watering can injure a tree. It is important to consider your soil type and the amount of rainfall. One method of checking if your tree needs water is to stick your finger three inches into the ground and if it’s dry, water the plant. An effective way to ensure the roots are adequately watered is to put your hose with no nozzle on a very slow trickle for approximately 15 minutes or longer if needed.

Mulching: Mulch should be applied two to four inches thick in a “doughnut” shape that doesn’t touch the bark around the base of your tree. Too much mulch can interfere with the roots receiving the appropriate amount of water and nutrients.

You need to assess whether the transplant shock is related to inadequate watering and mulching methods or if the tree was not properly planted. If you think the tree was poorly planted, it is possible to replant the tree using the steps outlined in this article.

Good luck with your tree.