Question and Answer
Q. I have a lilac bush that I started from a "slip" from my sister several years ago that has never bloomed. It is growing leaves and is beautiful, but no blooms. What do I need to do?
A. There are a number of reasons why a plant might fail to bloom. The most common factors are plant age, sunlight, plant nutrition, winter temperatures and improper pruning.
You didn't indicate how many years ago you started, but I would expect a "slip" (start from a stem cutting) to take 3-5 years before flowering, assuming that all other factors are favorable for flowering. The plant needs to grow new roots and shoots before it can spare the carbohydrates to support flowering and seed production.
If this new plant is more than 5 years old, I would look to some of the other factors. Lilacs flower best in full sun, and their flowering is delayed if over-fertilized with nitrogen. Lilacs bloom on last year's growth, so if pruned any time between late summer and the following spring, the flower buds will be removed.
And, finally, this year, many Indiana lilacs were hit by the big freeze in mid April. Many plants had started to break bud due to earlier warm weather only to be zapped by several days of hard freeze. If this is the case with your plant, it may make a good comeback next year.
Q. I read your article in the February 2007 issue of "Electric Consumer" with great interest. These are problems that have plagued my tomato plants for the last several seasons. I want to try the fungicides you suggested. Where can I buy chlorothalonil and mancozeb?
A. Both of these fungicide products should be available at your local garden supply store. Chlorothalonil is sold as Daconil 2787, Multipurpose Fungicide, Bonomyl or Funginil. Mancozeb may be sold as manzeb, Dithane or Fore. Several different companies may formulate these fungicides, including, but not limited to, Dragon, Bonide, Fertilome and Ortho. Always read the label before you purchase and/or apply.
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