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Hi everyone. I love lilac and have been trying to grow it since I took over this garden two years ago. However, the garden is damp and soggy. Some plants are doing ok but my poor lilacs are really in trouble. Do I need to listen to nature and take them out? From what I can see they aren't doing well. The one on the left was planted early last year and actually flowered well this year, but leaves started to get brown decay and started to curl. But it is still making some progress and has grown since I planted it. The deep green colour is a good sign. However, I planted one beside it this spring and it's in terrible trouble. It looked ok for a few months but in the last month it has gone yellow and is shrivelling away. Do I take it up now and put it in a large pot to leave to grow on the patio? I doubt it will survive the summer at this rate. Can I dig up the yellow lilac this time of year? Will lilac grow in a large pot on a patio? What type of shrub could I replace it with?  Many thanks for looking. 



Hi Jesse - you've certainly nothing to lose by taking it out just now as it's not looking too happy anyway. If your ground's wet and boggy, dig out a decent hole - two or three times the size you had - and fill with decent compost and plenty of  grit to aid drainage, and  if your lilac's still alive, replant it. Water in and then water only when it needs it - long dry spells -and once it's showing signs of new growth it should be fine. It doesn't look too lively though - it should have put on some good growth by now. 

The only thing I'd add is that you have them very close together. Lilacs make big shrubs/small trees, so I'd suggest you leave a much bigger space between them.  If it's not survived, you could follow the same advice and plant another one if that's what you'd like.  


I'd take out the yellow one. I fear it may be beyond help but it's worth a try potting it up in something well drained. Also, if those are both ordinary lilacs they're far too close together and to the fence to allow for growth.

I think you should always pick your plants to suit soil and aspect or you'll be forever disappointed.

I'd love some of those Japanese acers, but I have dry alkaline soil and a windy garden so I go and admire them somewhere else


Thanks  I think I'll take it out today, as it's damp so might be a good time to move it. I'm going to pot it up in a large garden pot I have and surround it in compost. If it survives I may just  try and grow it that way, on the patio. Funny how the other one is managing though, guess it's just too damp. 


Hi Jesse, you may find the other is a stronger grower and will cope, especially if you can improve drainage as Fairy suggests


Yes, I am sure I'm planting too close. Beginner gardener classic error. I was hoping fill out the back fence with lovely shrubs but alas, the soil seems too damp to allow for these lilacs.  any suggestions for shrubs that would take boggy soil a bit better? Maybe I'll just leave the space, as you said it needs room. 


Such is life Jesse! Plants like to keep us on our toes 

I'd agree with nut - it's usually best to go with the conditions you have. If the ground's always wet it will be difficult. See what it's like when you get it out -  if it's gone you can see it as an opportunity to try something else 


I wouldn't put another shrub there. The quickest of the 2 will win and the other will be swamped. Go for some bulbs for spring, narcissi are better than tulips and crocuses in damp. Some lowish spreading perennial would fill the gap and can be moved when the shrub(s) have grown. 

If you don't make it with the lilacs those coloured stemmed dogwoods do well in damp soil.

I have the dampest garden ever, short of actually having a bog. I was mulling over the idea of pulling both of them out and putting in a small birch. That would take the damp well, and be a very pretty little tree, but I think they grow too big, or maybe a sorbus. Next spring if the yellow one doesn't take in the pot I'll buy a dwarf lilac . Best compromise I reckon. Thanks so much guys for your feedback.  And yes, my garden soil punishes every mistake,  


So does mine Jesse, it just does it a different way

I suppose that's gardening

If only plants could talk !   


Sorry for asking Jesse, but what's the reason for the garden being so wet? Do you have a lot of paving for instance, and therefore lots of run off? I rented a house a couple of years ago and that was the problem there. It had been totally slabbed and the area next to back of the house was also lower. Water just flooded down the sloping top part and gathered there. A neighbour told me it didn't used to be like that until a previous owner put all the paving down, and they'd had to put a soakaway at the adjoining boundary fence because it was causing them a problem. The lower area was stagnant, with rushes growing between the slabs. The best remedy would have been to turf the top area again to prevent so much run off, and probably dig out and gravel the lower part to avoid so much water gathering. 

Or make the low bit a pond or a bog garden - perhaps you could try that  

That's A very good observation. The garden is right beside the mourne mts. My lawns are very boggy, usually 30-50% moss. I have a patio that's stabbed at the back. Then a small lawn sloping down to that fence. So yes, it's very boggy. I planted two apple trees and some lilac along the fence. I was very pleased as the Katy apple has loads of fruit now, even though it's its first year. The braeburn on the rhs is growing really well but no fruit this year. But the lilacs in between... Well, you can see.  It's funny but your description fully matches my back garden. 

But I'm keeping the patio paving. I have some lovely herbs growing in pots there and it's keeping me sane, a nice balance to the damp fence area. Guess I'll just have to be more selective about what I plant there. 

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