KC Gardens

Is there any way to save this lilac tree?

Lilac tree in trouble.
Lilac tree in trouble.


We planted this tree 14 years ago when we built our house. It has done very well, even bloomed this year. Now all of sudden it has started to die. I have three other bushes in the area,and they are doing fine, so I know it's not too much water or not enough. Is there something I can do other than accept that “something” is happening and it's dying? - Linda


Sorry, but from the picture, it is very difficult to tell what is going on with the lilac. And we really need more information. Here are some questions to answer: When did the dieback first begin? Is the dieback distributed evenly around the plant, or just on one side? What do the leaves look like that are still on the plant? When you scratch the bark on the leafless branches, is there green tissue underneath? Is this a common lilac or a Japanese tree lilac? You mention other bushes nearby, are they lilacs also? If not, what are they? What is the drainage like in this area? What is the exposure? Are there green sprouts coming up at the base of the plant? Do you notice any holes in trunk at the base? Answering these questions will help us determine what might be the problem.

Thanks in advance for the additional info.

Carole-Johnson County Extension Master Gardener