Lilac problem

cammby(z6 PA)August 25, 2012

We recently had a mishap with a hose spigot that wasn't completely shut off and it wasn't noticed until 2-3 days later. The only plant directly effected by the flooded area was a 5-6 year old Miss Kim Lilac. It was doing very well before this and stands probably 6ft tall.

We hardly use that particular hose spigot, so it wasn't noticed until we saw the lilac leaves turning wavy. Immediately turned off the water. Luckily no other nearby plants or, better yet, the basement got any trouble.

Anyway, after another day or two, the lilac leaves turned from wavy/curly green to a crispy brown. It had to be a result of the overwatering/drowning and not any type of pest.

The only positive is that there are two or three small shoots near the very bottom that stayed green and this is now a few weeks after the disaster.

My question is this: What to do? I'm assuming that it'll be best to cut it back almost to ground level (other than those couple shoots) and see if it slowly comes back again???

Between this and having our Japanese maple mobbed by bagworm moths for the first time, it's been a bad year for us landscape-wise.

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Cutting it as described would serve no purpose in regards to survival of the lilac, and could be detrimental. Unless you just can't bear to see the brown areas, I'd recommend leaving it as is and see what happens. Wait until next spring to determine what needs to be removed.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 8:08PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I totally agree. Though the foliage may look like crap right now, the plant may be perfectly fine and, come spring, will flush with lush green leaves.

Put your pruning equipment away.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 10:07AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

we dont have enough facts ...

first.. a lilac.. could probably be dug from the ground.. and left on the driveway.. for a few months and live.. waiting is imperative.. the neighbor.. in june.. just before the drought and heatwave.. 'had' to move an 8 foot lilac.. its totally crispified.. BUT its buds.. it future.. are still viable... green and hard .... it looks like heck.. but i doubt it will die ... but for whatever winter throws at it ...

second.. what is your soil.. i am simply mystified.. that a leaking faucet.. heck even full blast.. would kill a lilac.. inside a couple days ... unless is was in a bathtub with no drainage [bad clay soil].. and even still once the water stopped.. excess should drain away..

i suspect something else.. in the last month ... and a coincidental browning when the water happened ... can you add history regarding weather since june [any lawn spraying???] .. and this is why we dont run out there and hack it to the ground ...

the suckers are good.. and if in spring.. all the other stuff does NOT sprout.. that is when you will get rid of that part .. and rely on the suckers.. and with the giant root mass.. they should go gangbuster ... though you may not have flowers next year ...

if you simply cant look at it all .. heck.. its your garden.. cut it down simply so you dont have to look at it.. but within a week or two.. the leaves will fall off.. so you will just have some cool sticks that wont bother you [well me anyway... lol] as much..

a picture would REALLY help ... we are kinda guessing here ..


    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 10:26AM
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cammby(z6 PA)

Thanks for the advice to just stand pat and see what happens in the spring. It's ugly but if it's got a shot, I'd rather just let it show what it might do.

Here is a picture to show the plant. As you can see, there are a couple small, low shoots by the gutter downspout on the left that are still green and a small number (maybe a dozen?) of leaves on the inside which aren't visible.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 1:07PM
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cammby(z6 PA)

Forgot to mention weather and lawn/weed spraying.

Weather has been typical for a PA summer, though more rain later this summer than usual. Lawn treatment has remained the same, just applied fertilizer (no weed killer) in the past couple weeks which was well after the plant shriveled up. And no spraying of weeds since spring.

Only recent chemical treatment was spraying of Japanese maple after manually removing as many bagworms as I could see but those aren't anywhere near each other... and again, that happened after the lilac browned. No evidence of bagworm activity on lilac, whereas maple leaves were just eaten away or shredded by the ugly little buggers.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 1:13PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I am a bit dubious that a 3 day flood would do that to your lilac. I am not familiar with US fixtures but is that a gas meter behind the shrub? Have you checked there is no leak? That could kill a shrub.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 1:44PM
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cammby(z6 PA)

Yep, that is a gas meter but no leak. Been getting our normal summer bill of $8.52 which is just the base rate. 0.0 CCF (CCF=100 cubic feet of gas) used in past three bills.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 2:08PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you get charged.. for the gas that get past the meter.. if the leak is before the meter ... the bush dies.. and you dont pay ...

the total browning of the plant is a very big problem.. that is not heat/drought as the loss would not be that uniform .. ... and its not the water ...

CALL THE GAS COMPANY NOW!! .. tell them you have a dead plant right nixt tot eh meter.. and cant figure out why ... i will bet .. someone will be knocking on your door within 30 minutes.. they do NOT mess with possible leaks ... if we are wrong.. we are wrong ... it should cost you nothing ....

after that.. i would not care to worry about buds for next year.. i would cut it to about 3 inches from the ground.. insure the suckers are actually lilac.. and see what pops next spring.. i could not tolerate looking at that for the next 8 months ...


    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 2:25PM
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