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Three Problems That Can Plague Your Lilac Tree

Lilac trees add a splash of color to a backyard. They're relatively easy to grow and generally require little maintenance, aside from annual pruning to encourage new growth. Sometimes, however, lilac trees can contract a disease or attract bothersome insects that cause them to look less than brilliant. If you have a lilac bush in your yard, keep an eye out for these three conditions that may plague it.

Mealy Bugs

These little bugs are especially fond of purple sensation lilacs, though they may bother other varieties of lilacs, too. They look like little puffs of cotton, and they attach themselves to the underside of the lilac's leaves. The substance they secrete eats holes in the leaves, causing many of them to drop to the ground. Severe mealy bug infestations can cause slow growth and stem dieback.

Luckily, mealy bug infestations are rather easy to treat. You'll need to have the tree sprayed with an insecticide soap. You may want to have it re-sprayed several times per year to keep it from becoming re-infested.

Powdery Mildew Disease

Do your lilac's leaves seem to be covered in a powdery film? Powdery mildew disease is probably to blame. This fungal infection is most common when conditions are moist, so it usually shows up in the springtime. It's not a major concern if you catch it early, but it can lead to slow growth and even death if allowed to persist untreated.

Powdery mildew disease is treated by spraying the tree with fungicides and pruning out heavily infected branches. Regular pruning can help prevent re-infection by establishing better airflow through the shrub.

Lilac Blight

Are the twigs of your lilac bush turning black and curling? This symptom generally indicates that a tree is suffering from lilac blight, which is caused by a bacterium. It is most common in lilacs that are stressed by drought or nutrient deficient soils. Symptoms first appear in the spring, and they progress throughout the season if left untreated. Eventually, the tree may develop large sores, or cankers, on its branches.

Lilac blight cannot always be cured. However, proper treatment includes pruning out heavily-infected branches, avoiding getting the foliage wet during watering, and providing proper fertilization. With any luck, your tree will recover within a few seasons.

Whether you have a single lilac bush or a whole row of them, proper maintenance is essential for preventing all of these conditions. Have your bushes pruned each spring, and provide water when rain is scarce. Consider mulching your trees with compost to add nutrients to the soil.

For more information, contact Able Scape, Inc. or a similar company.