Help! My lilacs are sick!
I have two once-beautiful lilac shrubs that were filled with blooms this spring. They were healthy green all summer, and now suddenly, they're turning brown and losing their leaves. I'm in eastern Pennsylvania and we've had some scorching dry days this August, but then some cool rains and high humidity. These lilacs have been around for over twenty years without any problems. This is the first time I have ever seen them like this. What can I do to save them? Please help! Regards, Leigh
Chester County Pennsylvania
You didn't send a photo, so it is a little hard to come to any conclusions about your lilacs. Are the leaves turning white before they dry up and fall off? It has been a record year for fungus diseases, and lilacs are always susceptible to powdery mildew. If it is a fungus problem, the good news is that as it came late in the season, it will not affect the overall health of your plants. The unusual amount of rainfall we have had this summer has put many plants under stress from too much water in the soil. This makes it easier for fungal diseases in particular to get a foothold. Difficult though it may seem, the best you can do now is to wait for spring and see if your bushes leaf out normally again (and hope for a more normal summer season next year!).