En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Wednesday - August 06, 2008

From: Ottawa, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Shrubs
Title: Lilac bush roots dangerous to house foundations
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Are lilac bushes dangerous to the foundation of a house? There is a lovely white-blooming lilac that grows against the house outside my bedroom window. My ex-husband said that the roots would destroy the foundation and tried to kill the bush. It has come back, and I love the scent of the flowers coming through my window at night in the spring. Is it dangerous? I know willow tree roots are very invasive, and if the lilac is like that, I'll get rid of it. But I'm hoping it isn't.

ANSWER:

The common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, is a native of Europe and Asia; therefore, we have no information on it in our Native Plant Database. We can understand your wishing to keep your lilac, even though at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we encourage the use of plants native to North America and to the area in which the plant is being grown.

We looked and looked and looked without finding anything about damage to a foundation from lilac roots. Since they won't grow in hot country like Texas, we have no personal experience with them. We did find information that growing them over a septic field was not a good idea. Finally, in an article by Ron Smith, Horticulturist for North Dakota State University Extension Service, Questions on Lilacs, we found this question and answer:

Q: I have lilac bushes that apparently are planted too close to the foundation of my house. I’ve been told to move the bushes so they don’t cause a problem when they get bigger (with the drain tile and the foundation). How do I remove the bushes? Can I replant them in another location? When is the right time to do that?

A: I doubt the lilacs will be a problem to your drain tiles or foundation. If you still want to move them, now is not a good time. Early next spring or late this fall, after the foliage drops, would be better.

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Failing to thrive of non-native rose bushes in Austin
September 24, 2012 - I live in NW Austin and I have lost one knockout rose bush this summer and it looks like another one is failing. The leaves on a cane turn yellow then brown. I do not see whiteflies or black spots o...
view the full question and answer

Planting iris rhizomes in Wisconsin
October 10, 2008 - I live in central WI and was given some iris bulbs (think they are called Rhizomes) and have no idea how to go about planting them. I am very new to planting so step by step instructions with good de...
view the full question and answer

Encouraging bloom on non-native Batwing Erythrina
July 18, 2007 - Hi! I have a Batwing Erythrina in the ground next to my driveway in full sun in Houston. It's nine years old and is about twenty feet tall, but it does not bloom. What can I do? Thanks for your s...
view the full question and answer

Dietes bicolor(Bicolor Iris) winter-hardiness in Austin
February 09, 2010 - I have many bi-color irises (dietes bicolor), the freeze in Austin turned them brown. Can I trim them back without harming the plants? If trimming is acceptable, can you give me tips?
view the full question and answer

Question about non-native blue potato tree
July 08, 2008 - I have a blue potato tree that I planted last summer, the top looks dead but isn't, the bottom has grown into a bush, help what can I do?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center