Ideas for training lilacs into trees

Lilacs are native to the Southeast Europe.  A plant I have loved, loved since childhood, its scent is like no other.  Our first lilac grew huge in the middle of our haphazard back yard on the edge of the front range plains.  It was a bright spot among the false starts, weedy grass, and scattered perennials.  My garden today has its haphazardness as well.  Ambitions falling to the reality of my actual commitment.  In dreams of tending my mom’s yard, that lilac appears now and again and it reminds me of the good about home.

In the first home I owned,  my bedroom in spring was heady with lilac fragrance.  The blossoms close enough to touch, yet awkwardly barring entrance to the back yard.  Even early on in my current garden, a dwarf Korean cozied up to the patio only a few years ago.  Now a lilac will take center stage as a tree.

Syringia Vulgaris 

Size:  8–15′ H x  6–12′ W.

Spring blooming, lilac

Deadhead, and prune right after bloom.

I received two Syringia Vulgaris as part of a gift from the Arbor Day foundation. I planted them in an area I had decided would become a spot for a signature tree. Originally thinking, a crabapple would be the best bet as you can buy varieties that have a more horizontal growth habit. But free being free, it’s the perfect specimen to test creating a tree from a lilac.

Granted, my trimming skills are not the best. Just look what I did to this poor peach tree!

I found an article that explains how to cut a tree from a whip. My little guys need to grow at least another year before I start training. The question is now, one plant or two? Do I move the one plant so that it can be on the side of the house under our window? That would make for a lot more watering. Which could be done on the south bed. But I don’t want if to shade my full sun plants .. though it might do the whole bed good. And then a beach to rest there would make sense. Or it will go in with the veggie patch.

Gorgeous example of a grafted lilac 

This lilac below Syringia vulgaris from Romania, on sale at Etsy!  They say its a 2 year old specimen.   The blooms are larger than those we get in dry Colorado, and look at its vigor!

To begin training a lilac into a tree, I will let my lilac grow naturally until I get some nice stems to chose from.  Then I will chose leaders to form a multi-stemmed tree.   The shoots off these will be trimmed back so I can stake it to bamboo to train it to grow in an upward direction.  Letting some other shoots around it to grow in first couple years will provide the tree more nutrients.  Do not let any lower shoots on the stem you select for the trunk to get bigger than dime size or they can affect the growth of the main stem and cause blemishes.

But, my guys have a bit of growing to do before they can be declared anything more than a twig.  They are establishing nicely and will give them so good food here soon to keep them on a good path.

Stay tuned!

2 lilacs bare root planted in early June.

 

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