Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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 Propagation Questions

Restoring and propagating rhododendrons
October 18, 2006 - I have 70+ year old native rhododendrons (16+ feet high) in my backyard. After all these years they are beginning to get dammaged by snow load and ice. Therefore I have 2 quesitons concerning these b...
view the full question and answer

Planting yucca seeds in Illinois
August 17, 2008 - My neighbor gave me a few pods (5) off of her Yucca plant which have lost its bloom for the year, how do I transplant them, in the ground or root them in water first?
view the full question and answer

Blossoms but no fruit for gooseberries in Enoch UT
January 16, 2010 - My gooseberries always get loads of blossoms, but I never get fruit. I think they need more sun, and thus, want to transplant them to a sunnier location. What (and when) is the best way to do this?
view the full question and answer

Winter care of Asclepias tuberosa from Austin
October 31, 2013 - We have several asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed). Monarch caterpillars have found and denuded them. We are excited about all of the Monarch caterpillars, but unsure of what to do next. What do we...
view the full question and answer

Cold hardiness of Liatris bulbs
October 05, 2009 - I live in Lexington KY - This spring I planted Liatris or Blazing Stars. Should I take up the bulbs and replant in spring or leave them in the ground?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.