Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport the plant database you love!

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

Dividing Agapanthus
October 03, 2015 - When and how do I separate Agapanthus? Should I do it?
view the full question and answer

Do Fleming yaupons make pollen
November 09, 2010 - I have been told that all Will Fleming yaupons are male and can serve as effective pollinators for female yaupons (the females I have are Pride of Houston variety). Is this true? Also, can dwarf yau...
view the full question and answer

Iris brevicaulis in Southwest Michigan
April 22, 2007 - We live in Kalamazoo, MI (Southwest Michigan Zone 6) and discovered last year that we have an iris brevicaulis (we think) growing (and very pretty) on our property. It has the "zig zag" stem. It see...
view the full question and answer

Pineapple plant care
November 05, 2005 - Hello, I have a new pineapple plant that is still very small 1-2 inches around the fruit at most. The fruit has recently turned a deep yellow as if it were ripe. I am wondering if it can be ripe at su...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
June 18, 2012 - Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs a...
view the full question and answer

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