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Lilac help needed

(7 Posts)
Memoires Tue 16-Aug-16 10:12:59

I have a small lilac in a pot. It is clearly not happy, and looks like this.

It is about 2 years old. It's supposed to flower twice a year, but there's clearly not going to be a second flowering this year sad

It is currently in a place where it gets full sun for most of the morning and is in shade the rest of the time, but it's fairly sheltered from wind though not from rain.

I don't water it everyday as the person I got it from said it doesn't like being wet.

I am trying to get a larger pot for it, and think I've found one which will pass dh's aesthetic sense. What sort of compost should I use? My friend told me ericacious when I first got it, but is that right?

Should I prune it?
What sort of plant food should I give it?

I do not know quite what to do to help it back to health and happiness. Please give me minute instructions!

Memoires Tue 16-Aug-16 10:13:39

You can't see it in that pic! I'll try for a close up.....

Memoires Tue 16-Aug-16 10:16:40

Hope that's better!

shovetheholly Tue 16-Aug-16 14:17:45

That looks like a Korean lilac to me. I have three in my garden, trained into lollipops. Official wisdom is that it likes well-drained soil in the sun, but I've found it's absolutely fine on my heavy clay in semi-shade. In fact, this year it has rather suffered in the dry and hot conditions we've had (the fact that I moved it in the spring didn't help, however). I suspect that yours is the same - it looks like sun scorch?

I find they do respond quite well to a light prune in midsummer, and a good old mulch with manure - they like a lot of nutrients. I would definitely try it in a bigger pot, with a mix of compost and a small amount of well-rotted horse manure. Maybe up the watering a little, though you don't want it standing in the wet all the time. However, unless you are somewhere absolutely sopping wet, it will be fine in the garden (I'm in Yorkshire, north-facing, clay, and they are fine in the ground).

I find that the second flush of flowers is quite minimal compared to the first. It's a showstopper for about 2 weeks of the year (the scent is incredible), which is why it made sense to me to train it so it had a shape for the rest of the time.

Memoires Tue 16-Aug-16 21:18:41

That's really helpful, Shove, thank you so much. It flowered twice last year, and agree the scent is glorious!

I'll do all as you suggest, lots of nutrients, light prune, bigger pot (just got one). I'm relieved it's not incurable!

When you say sun scorched, I suppose that means it shouldn't be in an even sunnier position? I'd really like it to be several feet away from where it is now, but that gets more sun for longer. We're in Devon and it tends to be more rainy than sunny....

Memoires Tue 16-Aug-16 21:22:19

Moving things does make them sulk for a while, doesn't it? We moved a camellia - it was over 5ft tall and right in the middle of the lawn, so we moved it to the edge. DH was so sure it was dead as it was seriously upset, but 2 years later, there it was blooming beautifully again!

shovetheholly Thu 18-Aug-16 09:31:31

I wouldn't put it in more sun for now. It may be more resilient by next year, with room to expand in a larger pot. (Partly this is about getting and retaining enough water, so ensuring that it's not too dry will help).

Yes, some things get a kind of transplant shock on being shifted. Some are worse than others - paeonies, for example, hate being moved (it is, however, untrue to say that they always die - I've successfully moved a couple). Larger, more established plants tend to suffer more when being moved: I suspect this is partly because there is a bigger surface area for water loss while the new roots establish. It's one reason to make sure things are moved in the autumn/spring. If you really have to do it at another time of year, pruning back so that you're moving less of a large plant can help to reduce water stress.

Also, it helps if you dig out a big rootball and try to keep as much earth around the roots as possible as you move it (may require two people to lift, it can get bloody heavy with big things!).

I reckon you might need to feed it fairly regularly if it's going to live in a pot permanently! It'll eat through any nutrients in the compost quite quickly so you'll be its only source!

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