Experts and BHG readers answer.
How long will it take to propagate a lilac?
Layering is a simple way to propagate your lilac. Although layering is a natural process that occurs spontaneously with some shrubs, you may have to give your lilac a little help. Just follow these steps and you can make enough shrubs to share with your friends.
Prepare the soil. In spring, choose a flexible outer stem and carefully bend it until the tip touches the ground. Mark a spot on the ground about 12 inches in from the tip. Work compost into the soil around that mark.
Get the stem ready. With a sharp blade, carefully make a diagonal slit in the stem 12 inches from the tip, where the branch will touch the ground. Dip the cut in rooting hormone and gently turn the stem to make sure that the inside of the slit is exposed to the hormone. Hold down the stem. On either side of the slit, peg the branch to the ground with landscape staples or rocks. Pile some soil on the slit and pat it down. Mulch with leaf litter and keep the branch watered throughout the summer. Separate the new plant.
The next spring, after roots have grown from the wounded stem, sever the connection between your new lilac and its parent. Wait a few weeks before moving the new plant to a site where it has space to mature.