Do Lilacs Transplant Well: Learn How And When To Transplant Lilacs

(Image credit: fotolotos)

Small, young shrubs almost always transplant better than older, established plants, and lilacs are no exception. When you think about relocating a lilac bush, you’ll find it much easier to transplant root shoots than to actually move the mature plant. How to transplant a lilac? When to transplant lilacs? Do lilacs transplant well? Read on for all the information you need about moving lilac shrubs.

Moving Lilac Shrubs

Lilac bushes are lovely, fragrant additions to any home garden. They are also versatile shrubs, filling in as border plants, specimen ornamentals or as part of flowering hedges. If you are thinking your lilac would look or grow better in another location, consider transplanting a root shoot instead of relocating a lilac bush. Many species of lilac, like the French lilac, propagate by producing shoots around the base of the shrub. 

Do lilacs transplant well? The lilac shoots do. You can dig them out and replant them, and odds are good that they will thrive and grow in a new location. It is also possible to move an entire mature plant, but only if necessary. You’ll just have to invest a little more time and muscle into the effort.

When to Transplant Lilacs

If you are wondering when to transplant lilacs, you have two choices: autumn or spring. Most experts recommend that you act in spring. The optimal time is after the plants bloom but before summer’s heat arrives in force.

How to Transplant a Lilac

If you are wondering how to transplant a lilac, your first big step is to select a sunny location for the new site. Then prepare the soil well. You can maximize success with moving lilac shrubs – either the smaller sprouts or the large mature shrub – by rototilling the soil and mixing in aged compost. Prepare a large area for the plant before you begin digging out the lilac. 

If you want to transplant a lilac shoot, separate the transplant from the mother plant with as large a root system as possible. Then plant this shoot in the center of the prepared area. 

If you are transplanting a lilac that is mature and large, expect to work hard at digging out the rootball. You still need to take out as large a rootball as possible, and you may need help to lift the mature plant’s rootball onto a tarp to move it. 

Plant the rootball in a prepared hole twice as large as the rootball. Tuck soil around the rootball and keep it watered well and regularly for the next year or two.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.