Hi, I have quite a large lilac bush that I am trying to save from my construction crew. The construction crew will be coming within a couple of weeks. Can I cut a branch off and try to root it? How long should the cutting be? I haven’t been able to separate it at the base.
Alternatively, I’m happy to donate it to the botanical garden, however someone will need to come and uproot it.
I have attached a picture from last May. It is about 6-7 feet tall.
Thank you contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question. Your lilac is beautiful and I can see why you would like to save it from the construction crew!
Yes, lilac branches can be cut and rooted. I’ve included some information below about when, how, and what size of cuttings to take, as well as links to full articles with instructions about rooting, planting and caring for the cuttings.
- When working with plants and cuttings, sanitation is vital. Before you begin, make sure all of the equipment and materials that will be used are sanitized. While making the cutting, use a sharp pruner or scissors to make a clean cut. Dull blades can damage the proximal end of the cutting.
- Because lilacs are softwood species, they can lose water rapidly, so desiccation control is needed.
- Cuttings should be selected immediately after the plant begins to resume growth in the spring or early summer.
- Select approximately three or four stem cuttings from the stock plant to ensure a better survival rate.
- The cuttings should be between three to five inches in length and contain two to three nodes. Make sure your cutting is not too old or too young. To make sure that you have a suitable cutting, select a branch and attempt to break it. If it snaps easily, the branch is of suitable age. If the cutting bends and doesn’t break, the cutting is too young. If the cutting does not bend or break at all, it is too old.
The full article with this information, as well as planting and care instructions for the cuttings, is available here: https://sites.psu.edu/lilacpropagation/2014/03/02/lilac-propagation/
Another helpful article for propagating deciduous softwood shrubs is available here: https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/2019/06/propagation-deciduous-shrubs-softwood-cuttings
It is generous of you to consider supporting the Toronto Botanical Garden. Donation information is available at the Toronto Botanical Garden website but there is no information about donating plants . You might consider a nearby community centre or school.
Good luck saving your lilac!
April 27, 2022