rejuvenation old lilac

(Question)

I had an old lilac bush cut back to stubs last summer.  Now I have a large number of shoots growing out of the old stubs.  I know I’m supposed to remove some of these shoots, but I don’t know which ones to remove, and which ones to keep.  One source says to keep 10 shoots–another says to leave 3 shoots to grow out of each of the old stubs and remove everything else.  Any advice would be appreciated.

 

(Answer)

Good for you to save that old lilac.  As you probably know, they can live for 100 years or more.

Because lilacs are so long lived, and thus frequently need rehabilitation, your question is one we’ve been asked several times.  The truth is, there is no specific number of shoots to preserve – it really depends on how crowded the plant is becoming and the shape you are trying to achieve.  Have a look at our answer to a previous question here.

Here is a longer discussion of lilac pruning in this article from Fine Gardening, which has good illustrations: https://www.finegardening.com/article/pruning-lilacs

Good luck bringing this beauty back to its former glory!