Advice needed-Lilac suckers

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Serenella, Feb 17, 2024.

  1. Serenella

    Serenella New Member

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    Hello,
    We would like to re-design a bed around a Lilac tree. The area is full of suckers, and I am wondering what to do. If we did them up and replant the area, will the suckers come back? Or would it be better to cover the area with landscape fabric and river rock? Thank you.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) continues itself through production of suckers. With the oldest eventually aging out and deteriorating, to be replaced by younger ones. So, if a regime is undertaken of diligent sucker suppression or removal a specimen will come in time to consist only of senescent stems. That said, two exceptions to not cutting suckers off or out would firstly be if a lilac bush dates back to when named horticultural selections were grafted onto rootstocks of other kinds. And secondly when a patch of suckers that extends well beyond the immediate vicinity of the main plant has been produced. In the first instance suckers have to be seen in flower to tell if they are the same kind as the principal variety.
     
  3. Serenella

    Serenella New Member

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    Thanks so much for this. The suckers are within an area of two/three feet (see photo). If they come from old rootstock, is there a way to control them? Instead of under planting the lilac, I am thinking of removing the suckers as much as possible, and cover the area with landscape fabric and river rock to make it tidy.
    Thoughts?
     

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  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If a Lilac wants to sucker, it'll sucker. Only way to stop it would be to dig up the entire root system - which is a non-starter, I fear.
     
  5. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm sure you do not want to get rid of that beautiful lilac but are frustrated not to be able to plant anything much under it.

    One strategy to consider would be to arrange perhaps 3 fairly large, attractive pots under the lilac and plant in those. I can picture wide, relatively shallow pots with 3 identical white azaleas but there are so many other possibilities.

    You'd need to keep the pots slightly above the ground so the lilac suckers could not infiltrate. Then, cover the area with a mulch - bark or rocks perhaps that would hide the stubs of cut suckers.

    Even if you were to cut the lilac down, you'd likely be faced with years of suckers determined to carry on.
     
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  6. Serenella

    Serenella New Member

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    Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply - I really like the idea of using pots on river rock.Do you think it would help to use landscape fabric under the rocks to control the suckers?
     
  7. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Personally, I would not bother because it won't stop the suckers and the strength of their growth would push them up under the landscape fabric.

    I think it would better to have easy access to them and to simply cut them off as they emerge.
     
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  8. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I like Margot design idea
    Look for matching fibreglass decorative pots of odd number (design idea) in diff scale sizes - easy to find starting now in spring — i have several from one of the big box stores

    I suggest fibreglass because it survives our freeze thaw climate and are light weight & usually not breakable

    there are nice fibreglass planters - make sure the pots have drain holes in base

    the other topic is something I have seen @Margot post here in the past - interesting to read https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/landscape-fabric.pdf
     
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  9. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    @Margot
    At risk of high jacking OP question - I think my other design rule at this stage is « never put something in that I can’t remove without heavy mechanical equipment » (or have someone on retainer :)

    A detail some of us forget with my still keen ambitious design aspirations a la Rosemary Verey / or more locally UBC David Tarrant (his tv show = the best) and the favoured blue poppies

    tho I would like the Highgrove stumpery with hostas (another UK reference
     

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