Several Lilac Bushes look dead

Asked July 28, 2020, 10:49 PM EDT

I have a row of lilac bushes that are shaded over the years due to Apple trees. Now 4 of the bushes look dead. Leaves all of a sudden shriveled turning brown and dropped. Those bushes have zero leaves now in July.

Ramsey County Minnesota

4 Responses

We can’t diagnose the problem by viewing photos. However, our guess is that the plant might have been damaged by bacterial blight. Go here to learn about it and what to do about it.

For a certain diagnosis, send samples of affected leaves and branches to the University of Minnesota Plant Disease Clinic. However, if the branches are leafless, it may be too late to do that.

Hi. Thank you for your response. I believe the lilac bushes that appear to be dying or dead are the white lilac bushes. I am researching to see if I can find an arborists to look at them. I also have 2 apple and 1 Italian plum tree they can look at.

Is it possible for me to drop off a branch to your office? Is it Stakman Hall? Is it possible during Covid? If so please advise - location details, times and or dates and how you prefer it to be packaged.
Otherwise If I mail it do you recommend a particular was of packaging it?
Thank you for your time and assistance. Deb O’Neil 651-325-8775 or email

I accidentally deleted photo in above post so sending a few more.

Go here to find out how to prepare samples and where to take them for testing.

Many others have reported similar lilac leaf problems this summer and some have submitted samples for testing. We are looking forward to a definitive diagnosis.

The lab is located in Stackman Hall.

Plant Disease Clinic
Mailing address: 495 Borlaug Hall | 1991 Upper Buford Circle | St. Paul, MN 55108
Hand delivery address: Room 105 Stakman Hall | 1519 Gortner Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
Lab hours: Tuesday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
(612) 625-1275 |