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Lilac bush lost leaves


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My mom has a lilac bush that has lost all its leaves, and today my cousin posted a picture of his lilac bush it has also lost all its leaves (it has a flower also). these bushes are in two different areas, they are the lavender colored ones. I have white lilac bushes and they're fine. Anyone know what is going on?

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Not only did my lilacs start to drop their leaves right after they flowered but the apple trees are dropping their leaves early. A large elderberry is almost totally leafless. While this could be some sort of fungus or bacterial disease my guess is it is stress. There are too many different varieties acting in exactly the same way for it to be a single disease.  We have had very high temperatures with torrential rains. Excess heat slows photosynthesis.  The trees are so stressed out that they can't support leaves. The apple trees are holding on to their fruit but the fruit is small. The trees are just shutting down to preserve the integrity of the main body. It's sort of like hibernation. Some woody plants are just less susceptible to climactic conditions or are growing in an area that protects them from excesses. My white lilacs are fine but they are very old, very large and are somewhat shaded by the house. 

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As long as the woody stems aren't dying then the shrub is probably just going into early dormancy.  If you haven't pruned out dead wood annually, then it's probably struggling with too much active growth and lack of air circulation at the base to stay strong.  Lilacs are meant to grow new stems for flowers, and the old ones tend to die out. Keep grass, leaves and shedding bark out of the center of the base.  

Lilacs react to heat and dryness by dropping their leaves, but the live flower buds may still be there.  Check the leaf axials (where the leaf is attached to the branch) and see if there are any buds.  If they're alive, they will leave a white spot if you break one off.  In that case, I would make sure it gets extra water once a week.  Be sure the water goes directly down to the roots without running off into another location.  Don't fertilize it, but you might want to consider pruning the old wood out at this time. Leave a few short healthy stems.

If the buds are dead, then it's time to rejuvenate the shrub. That means cutting the largest stems off right above ground level. I just did mine, then went back and cut more off.  You can also cut it off higher but you'll be back to the old wood that doesn't flower next spring.  Sometimes they simply get old and are weakened till they succumb to disease and insects. Lilacs can grow 4-5 feet in a year, and the youngest growth is what blooms, so keep it neat, tidy and pruned for best flowering and health.

While you're in there cleaning, check for shoots around the outside of the root mass.  If you can remove one with roots, then tuck it into a pot and finish filling it with soil.  Presto, new bush for free!

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