Plant Math – Multiplying Lilacs Through Suckers

On this sunny morn, we have some lilac suckers that need dividing.

Hand isolating out a lilac sucker.

Lilacs have the glorious ability of multiplication through taking a root and deciding to grow a baby on it. Normally, that baby would be stuck right there, in the shade of the parent plant, never to journey off on its own, experience new dirt, or feel the warmth of full sunshine on its little leaves. Alas!

Let’s change that, shall we?

You will need

  • A shovel
  • Sharp pair of pruning shears
  • A bucket or some 1 gallon pots (if you don’t plan to plant them right away)
Scattered lilac suckers.

Start by picking out which sucker you want to split away, clearing the dirt around it. It’ll basically look like a little shoot sticking out of the ground with leaves on it.

Lilac sucker being dug up, shovel still in the ground, boot braced against it.

Now start digging! Remove the dirt all the way around until you find the parent root (big) and the baby roots, which belong to the sucker (small). If the sucker doesn’t have visible roots, rebury it and try another.

Cutting free a lilac sucker from the parent root.

Cut right under the baby roots to free the sucker from its earthen prison. Congrats! You are now in possession of a baby lilac!

Lilac sucker held in a gloved hand, freed from the ground.

Collect as many suckers as you want/your shrub has/until your bucket’s full. Now you can do a couple things.

A) Go ahead and plant them. Pick out well-draining, sunny spots, dig a hole, plop the sucker down inside, and water well. Boom. Done.

B) Not ready to plant just yet? Stick ’em in a pot until you are! Fill a 1 gallon pot (with drainage holes) with a good-quality potting soil or garden soil, planting two suckers to a pot, and water well. They’ll keep until you figure out where you want them.

That’s it. The mysteries of lilac splitting, no longer mysterious. Please feel free to fill the world with lilacs now!

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this info. I have a driveway that is lined with lilac bushes. Original shoot came from my Mom. My daughter lives on the other side of this long driveway and gets to enjoy it as well. I have many shoots as well and want to replant in other areas. I was not sure how to dig them up without harming the shoot.Thank you again for giving me the know how, to do this comfortable. Now I can save them and spread them around without harming them.

    1. Hi Rose, I’m so glad the information was helpful! And how wonderful to have lilacs from your mom, that you and your daughter can also enjoy. I love that!
      My original lilac shoots came from my oldest sister’s house and I think of her every time I walk past or sniff our lilacs. 💜

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