Transplanting a 6 ft. Lilac

(Question)

I’d like to move a 6 ft. lilac to another part of my yard.  The current location is becoming more shady so the lilac is losing shape as it stretches to the light.  Is a 6 ft. lilac too big to transplant?

(Answer)

Garden conditions are always evolving and it’s not unusual to discover that a tree or shrub needs to be moved to a new location. Lilacs are hardy plants and can survive transplanting quite well. It is okay to transplant a 6′ lilac.

I am attaching a link to our Garden Guide Planting a Tree: A Toronto Master Gardener’s Guide. It contains important tips and instructions. After blooming in the spring or in the fall is usually the best time to transplant lilacs. Do not prune it prior to transplanting. As you noted, a spot with good sunlight, at least 6 hours, is needed. Ensure the location has good drainage. Dig a wide hole around the base of the tree, getting as much of the root system as possible and keep as much soil on the roots as possible.  Dig a hole in the new location that is two times wider and the same depth. Do not add topsoil or compost or other soil amendments as this will limit root growth. Do not place soil above the root collar – again, please refer to the Garden Guide link below. Fan the roots out  and refill with the original soil. Press down gently and firmly.  Water thoroughly, at least two buckets full, every day for the first two weeks and continue to water every two to three days for the next couple of weeks to encourage the roots to re-establish. You will not need to stake a tree this size.

Planting a Tree: A Toronto Master Gardener’s Guirde