How much can I cut back my lilac plants?

Asked June 1, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

I have 40-year-old lilac plants that look uneven because they have little growth on the bottom and lots on top. I know it's time to prune them, and I want to cut them to the ground. Is that okay, or should I cut them back by only one-third?

Jefferson County Colorado

1 Response

You can cut back lilac plants severely, but you will sacrifice enjoying their blooms for three years. Another option is to cut out one-third of the plant each of the next three years so that you can enjoy the lilac blossoms every year. If you decide to cut the plants back severely, do it soon because the ideal time for doing so has passed. For more information, go to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension's Lilacs--Selection & Pruning page.