When can I transplant a "lilac tree" ? Is early December too late...

Asked November 29, 2014, 9:55 AM EST

When can I transplant a "lilac tree" ? Is early December too late and do all the leaves have to have fallen off ?

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

We are not sure what type of lilac you are referring to. Syringa reticulata is the Japanese Tree Lilac. In general, you can transplant lilacs in the fall or the early spring. If you transplant now be sure to get as large a root ball as possible and keep the root system moist up until the ground freezes. The plant is not actively growing and it is possible some of the leaves may still be attached and will not harm the transplanting process. If you transplant in the spring, keep the plant watered throughout the growing season.

My wife and I purchased a home in a seniors community two years ago and, what I was told was a "lilac" tree, was on my front lawn there. It is about 8 feet tall and grew several small white flower bunches which resembled the purple flower bunches I was familiar with on lilac plants we had on our previous property. I planted a "bloodgood" Japanese maple there in 1969 and it grew to approximately 25 feet and, each year, it provided a glorious display of bright red leaves that lasted for two or three weeks in the fall until the colder weather came. My plan was to have lilac tree transplanted to another couple's property who liked it and have it replaced by a six to eight foot "bloodgood" Japanese maple on our front lawn. The person who was responsible for monitoring transplants said that all the leaves had to have fallen off before the transplant could take place which I knew was nonsense. Hopefully, I will be able to have this done in the spring of 2015. Would April be a good month to do it? Thanks for your advice.