Lilac Tree


Due to heavy wet snow this winter in the Toronto area, parts of my lilac tree is sideways. There are buds so can I prop it back up so it’s straighter?


This winter’s heavy snow load caused a lot of damage to Toronto trees and shrubs.  While there are many species of lilac available, they are in general known for their hardiness and persistence so I expect your lilac will recover. I’m assuming the bending sections are not broken in which case they would need to be removed. The bending  sections of your lilac may slowly correct themselves as new growth reaches toward the sun. You can assist this process by reducing the weight of the branch. Cut back bending branches to a side shoot and remove any small, twiggy growth. Depending on how much of your lilac has been affected, some overall ‘renewal’ pruning may be advisable to maintain the shape of the plant and help it withstand future snow load. Renewal pruning is done over two to four years by cutting back by one third each year. Note that lilacs bloom on old wood so it may be best to wait till after bloom to do some overall pruning. I’m including a link below to an excellent article from Fine Gardening magazine with clear instructions on pruning lilacs.

Pruning Lilacs

Would propping up your lilac help it to straighten? I couldn’t find any recommendations for this approach. However, I did find advice on tying up mature cedars to help them recover from snow load. Click here to access one of our earlier posts which outlines a method for this approach. If you are dealing with a large, mature shrub, I don’t see why this method wouldn’t work for lilacs as well. However, as the post points out, if you are dealing with a large shrub or tree you might want to seek the advice of a professional arborist. For newer and/or smaller shrubs, the pruning described above may be the better choice.

Good luck!