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Lilac help needed please: mulch and feeding for old shrubs

18 years ago

Hello, all:

I have a row of lilac bushes I am trying to rejuvinate. About 3 or 4 years ago, they developed what my neighbor calls "Dr. Seuss Syndrome" because they look like trees in "Horton Hears a Who!" They are about 8 feet tall, but have growth on only the top 25% to 30% of the plants. Some of the really old canes have cracked bark and moss on them.

I gave them a very severe pruning last year by cutting out some dead wood and cutting out about a third of the oldest canes on each shrub(foolishly I did this in late June instead of winter, but they survived.) I pruned out dead wood and took off the spent flowers this year. I am now starting to see new growth on a number of the canes. I would like to feed them and mulch them for the summer.

Up until now, we had been using pine or cedar mulch. I now realize that could be acidic, and that might have affected my lilacs. Is there a better mulch to use for holding the soil and weed control, or will cedar be okay if I add a little lime to the soil? Also, does anyone have a suggestion regarding feeding lilacs? I think fertilizing them might strengthen them further, but I am not sure what would be best to do.

Thanks in advance for any information!


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