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Re: smoke tree/coppicing

Last year after it had bloomed, she let me cut some branches back halfway,
and I'm curious to see what comes of it. I had read about a 3-year pruning
plan for rejuvenating old lilacs, but the height and shape of this one had
me stumped (no pun intended). Thanks for the advice, and I think she may
just have to admire it from a distance.


> A neighbor of mine used to prune his lilacs in the winter after all the buds
> had formed and then complained that the darned thing never bloomed! LOL!!!
> He was shocked when I told him to prune it AFTER the blooms in the spring!
> LOL!!!  
> As for pruning a HUGE, obviously mature lilac back that severely, I too,
> would be concerned as to its come-back.  However, Mother's almond bush got
> chopped down by some workmen one year and the little scraggly twig I had of
> the same plant got broken by someone another year and both of them came back
> MUCH bigger and better than they had been before.  Do you think trimming the
> lilac back by half one year and by half again the next year might work?
> Wouldn't you need to leave some buds left on the stems you prune off?  I
> don't know, but I know someone here will have an answer for both of us!
> Blessings,
> Bonnie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-gardenchat@hort.net [mailto:owner-gardenchat@hort.net] On Behalf
> Of Maria Olshin
> Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2003 10:29 AM
> To: gardenchat@hort.net
> Subject: Re: [CHAT] smoke tree/coppicing
> My friend's lilac has been in the ground for 27 years and not pruned in all
> that time. It's on the property line and several trees have grown up around
> it. Now it's a spindly 15 feet tall and blooms only at the very top. How
> severely can it be cut back? If cut down to less than a foot, is it likely
> to croak?
> Maria
>> Hmmm- this is very interesting.  I am under the impression (perhaps wrong)
>> that coppicing means cutting nearly to the ground.  Is this correct?
>> The lilacs we had in New York were severly pruned every year (just after
>> blooming I think)- essentially they were cut back by half (at least) and
>> they regrew and bloomed again the following spring- never missed a year.
>> They were on an east facing wall and would get just loaded with flowers.
>> Theresa
>> Ceres,
>> You're right, I should have explained further.  Coppicing lilacs is done
>> only when a specimen requires extreme rejuvenation - plants that have been
>> neglected for decades.  You do lose the next years bloom, but it is a
>> worthwhile method in some cases.  The reason it is suggested in such cases
>> is that it won't kill the lilac and the eventual results are very good
>> compared to the neglected plant.
>> Kitty
>>> In a message dated 3/21/03 8:54:09 PM, kmrsy@earthlink.net writes:
>>>> BTW, Syringa - LILACS! - are also suggested as good subjects for
>> coppicing.
>>> Kitty, if you severely prune an entire lilac in the spring or immediately
>>> after blooming I think you would not have bloom the next year.  I think
>> it is
>>> best to selectively prune cutting out the oldest wood to the ground.
>> This
>>> will keep the lilac in bloom and promote new growth to maintain a
>> desirable
>>> full plant.
>>> Some of the books list other trees/shrubs that this is applicable but
>>> which die to the ground each winter for northern gardeners.  Examples
>> would
>>> be Lespedeza, Sambucus & buddelei.  Nature does the
>>> stooling/stumpping/coppicing for us.
>>> Ceres
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