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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - November 05, 2012

From: Toomsuba, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Propagation, Transplants
Title: Transplanting a young lilac
Answered by: Guy Thompson


This past spring I planted a hybrid lilac in the ground. The weather here has started to get cold, and much more so at night. Also, the temperatures go from warm to cold and back again as if unsure what season it is. The plant is still young, only about 13 inches tall. I want to dig it up, pot it, and bring it indoors (we may also be moving soon, and I want to take it with me). How can I do this safely, without damaging the plant? A. Lopez


Mr. Smarty Plants specializes in plants native to the U.S.  Your lilac, Syringa, is not a native, although it is very widely grown in American gardens, especially in colder regions, since it needs winter dormancy in order to bloom profusely.  My best guess it for you to wait, if posslble, for the leaves to drop as colder weather arrives.  It can be safely transplanted at that time.  If you must move the plant while still in leaf, stop watering it now to promote dormancy.  Dig it up with as much soil as you can manage and place it in a large pot.  Water it with rooting hormone.  Leave it outside to allow cold weather to force it into full dormancy.  Don't let the soil become completely dry until you can transplant it back into the soil at its new destination.

Lilacs do best in slightly alkaline soil.  If your soil is acidic, mix a little lime into the soil when you place to lilac back into the ground.


More Transplants Questions

Yucca elata flowering in Tauranga, NZ.
August 20, 2009 - I have two huuuuuuge Yucca elatas in my garden. One of them flowered spectacularly last year - a 15ft stalk that grew so quickly you could hear it, and then burst into a cloud of waxy cream flowers. M...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Vacccinum corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
June 28, 2007 - Blueberry plants - We planted Northland and Blue Crop, 2 of each. All 4 plants have some leaves that are turning brown. This starts at the tip of the leaf, eventually encompasses the entire leaf, a...
view the full question and answer

Speed of growth of quercus agrifolia from Torrance CA
September 20, 2012 - I planted a quercus agrifolia in my front yard about 2 years ago without considering its ultimate size (it's about 10 feet from the sidewalk and 10 feet from our house). The tree is growing really fa...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants to form a privacy hedge in Granbury, TX.
April 14, 2011 - We live on a rocky hill in Hood County, Tx. and need suggestions for evergreen anything that will provide privacy. Red Cedars were added in October 2010 and it looks as if half of those are dying. He...
view the full question and answer

When to transplant volunteer Cedar Elms in Cedar Park, TX?
October 11, 2012 - We have a number of volunteer cedar elms we would like to transplant. When is the best time to do this? Should they be potted first and later transplanted or transplanted immediately? Thanks.
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center