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How to Split a Lilac Bush

How to Split a Lilac Bush

Do you wish you had more lilac Bushes to enjoy? Here is an easy to way to divide or split your existing Lilac Bush to have multiple bushes for yourself or to share with friends. The good news is it’s free.

How to Split a Lilac Bush so you can have an abundance of these beautiful blooms every Spring.

You’re probably wondering about this departure from my normal DIY, decorating posts. Especially after I’ve proclaimed to not have a green thumb and even posted about the The Best Way to Save a Faux Ficus Tree. Because we’ve been unable to buy new plants during this time, I’ve been splitting plants and transplanting them around my yard, just like my Mom taught me. Although I don’t know the names of most of the plants, if I like it, it gets split and transplanted. Just like that, it dawned on me that I might have something to share with other gardener wanna be’s.

I need more LIlac’s

Because of the gorgeous spring blooms, the wonderful aroma and beautiful arrangements you can make, I decided I needed more of these gorgeous plants in my yard. Here is my tried and true method to split and transplant a healthy new lilac bush.

Lilac bushes are easy to split to spread bushes around your home.
Here is one gathering of my lilacs
Lilac Blooms make such a great arrangement and make the house smell wonderful.  Using this simple technique to split your plants, you will have plenty of blooms to spread around your home.
They make the house smell wonderful and are perfect to pair with other Spring Decor like this cow print “Faith”
Lilac Bush ready to be split by using a simple technique to create a new bush.
My lilac bush today. The lilacs are no longer blooming so this is a great time to split the plant and start a whole new bush. Now would also be a good time to trim or prune the lilac bush to keep it small for this area.

All you need is a Rock!

Yes, that’s all you need. First, you want to identify a low lying branch and see where it will lay on the ground without breaking it from the Mother Plant. In order to assure a good root, you should disturb the ground beneath the limb with a gardening tool. Just loosen up the soil and then lay your branch against the ground and simply lay a rock on top to hold it in place.

Lilac bush in process of being split to create a new plant by laying a rock on one branch.
Here is what my rock from last spring looks like today.

OK, I have a confession

Although this is such a simple method to almost guarantee a new healthy bush, the process isn’t quick. You will need to leave the rock on the branch for at least 6 months. Mine has been on my branch for 1 year. You might be lucky and when you start to look for a low lying branch, and you may find one that has already rooted to the ground. This is a time for a happy dance. Also, lilac bushes can produce sucker’s. These usually grow close to the Mother Plants root. Although these provide immediate results, they are more fragile and harder to dig than one rooted a distance from the original root.

Time to Split your lilac Bush

Now that 6 months or a year have past. Wow, that went fast! LOL You can first remove the rock and make sure your branch has rooted to the ground. With a sharp shovel, you want to dig up your new lilac bush. Dig approx. 4-5 inches around the outer edges of the rooted area and bring as much soil as possible up with the rooted lilac bush. Take your pruning shears and cut the branch approximately at ground level, away from the Mother Plant. This will allow the Mother Plant to reshape and you’ll never know you removed a cutting.

How to Split a lilac bush.  Here are several shoots from this method.
Wow, look at what I was able to dig up. I had left mine under the rock for one year and the results was multiple shoots.

Now you are ready to transplant

If you have your perfect spot picked out, you will want to transplant immediately.

  • Dig a hole about the diameter of a gallon potting container or larger
  • Fill with potting soil about half full
  • Place your split lilac bush into the soil, keeping all the roots downward.
  • If you soil fell away from the roots, add that original soil next.
  • Water your plant thoroughly.
  • Now fill the hole completely with potting soil and be sure the plant is stable.
  • Apply mulch over the top.

I’m not ready to Plant!

If you are not ready to plant your new lilac bush, here are the steps to follow so your new plant will live until you can get it in the ground. One reason for splitting the lilac bush was to have new plants around my greenhouse, which is under construction. I decided to place all my split plants in containers. Also, because I have so many unexpected plants, a friend might get an unexpected surprise gift.

Step by Step instructions for potting your new lilac bush if you're not ready to put into the ground yet.
  • First fill a container that will hold your root approx. 1/2 full of fresh potting soil.
  • Second, add some of the original soil that fell away from the root.
  • Third, water your new lilac bush.
  • Fourth, fill the rest of the container with fresh potting soil and make sure your new lilac bush is firm in the container.
Four new lilac bushes as a result of the splitting technique I use to multiply my lilac bushes.

This is a DIY Post!!!

It just dawned on my that this is a DIY post after all. Do you see how many new lilac bushes I have? This post is all about how to DIY plants for those who wish they could garden. LOL

But seriously, after close examination, I believe one of the shoots was a volunteer sucker. Because it was unattached to the branch that had been placed under the rock, it most likely came up volunteer. Always be sure to look for these volunteer sucker’s as well. These may be more difficult to dig if they are close to the plant. They are also less likely to survive if damaged during the digging process, so be gentle.

Lilac bush that was split using this simple technique and transplanted to another part of my yard
Here is a split lilac bush that was transplanted last year using this method of splitting the plant. Because it was a new plant this spring, there was only one bloom. Oh, well I’m still proud of it.
Disclaimer

This blog post is in no way a gardening guide. My Mom taught me these methods of splitting plants and it has worked well for me over the years. Different climates and soil may have completely different results. This blog is for entertainment purposes as I share what works for me. If you decide to give it a try, what have your got to lose? Just put a rock on it and see what happens.

Lilacs in a basket from the mother plant that I used to split into more lilac bushes.
I’m looking forward to many lilac arrangements next Spring.

Here is my 2021 harvest and I’m sharing more lilac details including how to arrange them in a basket. See 3 Reasons You Need A Lilac Bush.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Although this is a departure from my usual decorating and DIY posts, I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know if you try this technique of splitting a lilac bush. Feel free to ask me any questions and as always, your comments are greatly appreciated.

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Edna

Sunday 10th of May 2020

Personality quiz results. . A-2 and B-4

rahrags@gmail.com

Sunday 10th of May 2020

Edna, I knew you would be Traditional but I'm a little surprised that the Modern added in. Thank you so much for subscribing. Rachel

Cynthia latham

Friday 8th of May 2020

This is the same way my stepmom roots her snowball bushes.

rahrags@gmail.com

Friday 8th of May 2020

Cynthia, Yes, this method has worked for me with many plants including Roses, hydrangeas, and more. Thanks you for your input. I appreciate you for taking the time to comment. Rachel

deezie

Friday 8th of May 2020

Good Morning Rachel I have never ever heard of this* What a fantastic idea. I have some lilac bushes that are new to me but I really want more so I will be trying this. I am actually going to go outside this morning and do this. Thank you so much. I learn so many cool things from you. enjoy your day Rachel deezie

rahrags@gmail.com

Friday 8th of May 2020

Deezie, I'm so glad you found this helpful. Good Luck with your transplanting. Rachel