Half dying Japanese lilac tree

Asked July 18, 2018, 12:23 AM EDT


We moved into a home in the south metro area two years ago and inherited a mature (10 year old) Japanese Lilac tree. The previous owner mentioned it would need to be replaced, but I was stubborn and wanted to keep it.

The first summer about half of it's branches appeared dead. I trimmed many of them off hoping it would recover. This last spring it showed promising signs of life, good buds, some flowers, but still the leaves were a little smaller and there were fewer flowers than the second one we have in our backyard.

Now as the weather has gotten hot, about half of the leaves appear to be wilting. I see no physical damage or pests. The yard is irrigated and the soil drains well.

Any idea what's wrong with my tree and how I might be able to save it?

Dakota County Minnesota

1 Response

I think that you are on the right track with what you did with your pruning. That you saw some growth this spring attests to this. Japanese lilacs do not always bloom consistently from one year to the next. This might be the “off” year for your tree. Also, due to the rather unusual spring conditions, gardeners are reporting impaired flower development this summer in many plant species. The wilting you are now experiencing is due to the hot weather. Patience is probably the best course

The following site will give you pruning directions:


This site will give you some additional information on Japanese lilacs:


Good Luck!!