Lilac bush volunteer

Asked July 21, 2018, 7:52 PM EDT

I have a really beautiful lilac bush which has grown a volunteer that I would like to move. The volunteer is about 12 feet tall and a few feet wide. I would prefer to move it ASAP as I need this area for something else. Do you know if I can successfully move it or, should I just dig it up and discard it?

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

You can certainly move your lilac volunteer, but we're in the middle of our hottest and driest season, so the longer you can delay it the better. When you transplant a shrub you will inevitably damage the roots. This actually stimulates root growth, but doing it at the time of maximal demand on the root system is challenging to the plant. Even if you dig a large root ball you will lose some roots and damage others. Fall would be the best time to transplant the lilac. Soil temperatures are still warm, but the weather is cooling down, and the plants aren't under so much stress. Fall rains will start soon. The plant has the winter to grow new roots and become established in its new location.

If you do decide to move the plant now, wait as long as possible. Water the lilac thoroughly in its old spot to soak the roots. Water thoroughly the new location. Then dig the new hole, fill it with water, let the water drain and refill it. Then dig up the lilac with as much root ball as possible. Place it in the new hole with the flare of the trunk above the soil line. Water again thoroughly and tamp down to get rid of air pockets. Keep the transplanted lilac well-watered - deep watering every 3-4 days while its hot, every 5-7 days when temperatures moderate. Newly transplanted shrubs need special care for at least a year as the plants adjust to the new environment. Lilacs usually transplant well.