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Syringa x hyacinthiflora (Early Flowering Lilac)

Early Flowering Lilac, Hyacinth Lilac, American Hybrid Lilac, Flowering Shrubs, Fragrant Shrubs

Syringa x hyacinthiflora, Early Flowering Lilac, Flowering Shrubs, Fragrant Shrubs,  Spring Flowers, Blue Flowers, Lilac Flowers, Purple Flowers, Pink Flowers, White Flowers

Syringa x hyacinthiflora (Early Flowering Lilac), vigorous and remarkably resilient, are low-maintenance shrubs that bloom abundantly with minimal care. These must-have plants deserve a spot on every gardener’s list for their effortless growth and profuse flowering.

What is Early Flowering Lilac?

Syringa x hyacinthiflora, commonly known as early flowering lilac or hyacinth lilac, is a hybrid of two species of Lilac (Syringa oblata and Syringa vulgaris), both native to Eastern Europe and Asia.

Description: The hyacinth lilac is a deciduous shrub with a stunning display of flowers. It is a complex and beautiful hybrid that combines the best features of its parent plants.

Growth Habit: This plant typically exhibits an upright habit in youth, fattening with age. It provides an excellent backdrop for other plants in a landscape design.

Size: The hyacinth lilac is a medium-sized shrub that typically grows between 8 to 12 feet (2.4-3.6 meters) tall and wide, making it a substantial presence in the garden.

Flowers: The plant’s showy flowers are its most remarkable feature. They are incredibly fragrant and bloom in large clusters that can reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length. The flowers can be single or double and are available in a wide range of colors, including purple, violet, white, or pink.

Foliage: The plant’s leaves are heart-shaped and dark green, providing a lovely contrast to the bright flowers. The foliage often turns shades of red, purple, and gold in fall, adding another level of interest to the plant. As an added bonus, the foliage is highly resistant to powdery mildew that can plague other lilac varieties.

Blooming Season: The hyacinth lilac is one of the earliest blooming lilacs, often starting in mid-spring, about 7-10 days earlier than common lilacs.

Hardiness: It’s quite hardy, generally thriving in USDA zones 3-7. Most hyacinth lilacs are not suited to the heat of the south. They need a long period of winter chill for buds to mature and bloom the following spring. The recommended growing areas are zones 3 to 7. However, several Hyacinthiflora lilac cultivars with low-chill requirements have been bred for warmer zones, such as ‘Lavender Lady’, ‘California Rose’, ‘Excel’, and ‘Esther Staley’.

Uses: Given its size and showy flowers, this lilac is often used as a focal point in the garden. It is also commonly used in borders, screens, or as a standalone specimen plant.

Pollinators: The fragrant flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, making it an excellent addition to a pollinator-friendly garden.

Toxicity: Like other lilacs, the hyacinth lilac is not typically considered toxic to humans or pets, but ingestion can cause mild stomach upset.

Deer and Rabbit: Lilacs are usually resistant to damage from deer and rabbits, although extreme conditions may prompt these animals to eat plants they would usually avoid.

Drought: While this lilac can tolerate brief periods of drought once established, it prefers consistent moisture for optimal growth.

Invasiveness: This hybrid lilac is not known to be invasive.

Key Facts: The hyacinth lilac was created to combine the hardiness and fragrance of Syringa vulgaris with the early blooming habit of Syringa oblata, resulting in a robust, highly scented shrub that blooms earlier in spring.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 7
Heat Zones 1 - 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, A2, A3
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Syringa
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid)
Fall
Height 8' - 12'
(240cm - 3.7m)
Spread 8' - 12'
(240cm - 3.7m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Bees
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Hedges And Screens, Beds And Borders, Small Gardens

Favorite Syringa x hyacinthiflora Cultivars

Garden Design with Early Flowering Lilac

The Early Flowering Lilac, with its rich fragrance and beautiful clusters of flowers, serves as a remarkable centerpiece in any garden. The plant’s size and striking blooms make it a natural focal point, while its early blooming period helps kick off the spring garden season with a burst of color and scent.

  • Use the Early Flowering Lilac as the anchor of a border garden, surrounded by smaller perennials that will complement its vibrant flowers and lush foliage. Pair it with late-spring or summer-blooming plants such as roses, peonies, or daylilies, to ensure that your garden enjoys a progression of blooms throughout the seasons.
  • Consider adding some bulbs like daffodils or tulips at the base of your lilac. They will bloom in concert with the lilac, creating an appealing layered look and extending the bloom season.
  • The shrub’s dark green foliage, which turns yellow in the fall, allows for a great backdrop to highlight autumn-flowering plants like sedum or aster.
  • Incorporate a variety of textures into your design for added interest. Consider adding plants with fine foliage, like ornamental grasses or ferns, which can help highlight the lilac’s broader, heart-shaped leaves.
  • Remember, this plant attracts pollinators, so it could be a central part of a butterfly or bee garden, surrounded by other pollinator-friendly plants like lavender, salvia, or coneflowers.

Lastly, consider your lilac’s needs when planning your garden design. Early Flowering Lilacs prefer full sun and well-drained soil, so be sure to choose a location and companion plants that share these requirements. With thoughtful planning, your Early Flowering Lilac can truly shine in your garden design.

Companion Plants

Companion plants should have similar growing requirements – full sun and well-drained soil – and ideally, bloom at different times to ensure continued interest throughout the growing season. Here are some options:

Bulbs: Planting bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, or alliums near your lilac can create a beautiful spring display. These plants bloom around the same time as the lilac, their vibrant colors complementing the lilac’s soft blooms.

Perennials: Select perennials that bloom in late spring to summer to pick up the baton once your lilac has finished blooming. Good choices include peonies, iris, or daylilies. Salvia, catmint, and coneflowers can offer summer color and continue attracting pollinators.

Ornamental Grasses: These provide great contrasting texture to the broad leaves of the lilac. Maiden grass or switchgrass can add movement and texture to your garden.

Shrubs: Other shrubs with different blooming times can complement your lilac. Consider adding some summer-blooming shrubs like roses or hydrangeas for ongoing interest.

Fall interest plants: After the lilac’s foliage turns yellow in the fall, plants like sedum or aster can carry the color interest forward, while ornamental grasses can add texture.

Remember to consider the mature sizes of all your plants to ensure they have enough room to grow and that your garden looks balanced.

Companion Plants for Early Flowering Lilac

Rosa (Rose)
Paeonia (Peonies)
Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
Narcissi (Daffodils)
Tulips
Sedum (Stonecrop)
Allium (Ornamental Onion)
Salvia (Sage)
Nepeta (Catmint)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Iris germanica (Bearded Iris)
Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)

Growing Tips

Growing Syringa x hyacinthiflora, or Early Flowering Lilac, can be rewarding, bringing stunning flowers and wonderful fragrance to your garden. Here are some steps for successful cultivation:

Location: Select a location that receives full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily), as lilacs bloom best in sunny spots. Light shade is tolerated, but the best flower production occurs in full sun. The soil should be fertile, humus-rich, alkaline to neutral, and well-draining. Lilacs do not tolerate waterlogged conditions. They thrive in chalk but dislike acidic soils.

Planting: Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball of your lilac. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the ground surface. Backfill the hole with soil, pressing firmly to remove any air pockets.

Watering: Water the plant thoroughly after planting, and continue to provide regular water until the plant is well established. Afterward, lilacs can tolerate brief periods of drought but prefer consistent moisture.

Fertilizing: In general, lilacs do not require much fertilization. However, if your soil is poor, a balanced slow-release fertilizer can be applied in early spring.

Pruning: Pruning should be done in late spring, immediately after the lilac finishes blooming. This is because lilacs bloom on old wood, meaning the buds for next year’s flowers are formed on the current year’s growth. If you prune in late summer, fall, or winter, you will be removing next year’s blooms.

Winter Care: Although hardy, young lilac shrubs may benefit from a layer of mulch applied around their base to protect the roots from winter cold.

Pests and Diseases: Monitor the plant for pests like aphids and diseases like powdery mildew. Using a well-balanced planting approach with good plant hygiene can prevent many issues.

Remember, patience is key when growing lilacs. While they might take a few years to bloom profusely, the wait is definitely worth it!

Discover These Helpful Guides for Further Reading

Pretty Lilacs for Small Gardens
Great Companion Plants For Your Lilacs
Blooming Seasons of Lilacs
Edible Flowers: 16 Varieties to Beautify Your Garden and Plate
How to Plant, Grow and Care for Lilac Bushes
Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac)
Compare All Syringa (Lilac)
Compare Now
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Guides with
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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 7
Heat Zones 1 - 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, A2, A3
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Syringa
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid)
Fall
Height 8' - 12'
(240cm - 3.7m)
Spread 8' - 12'
(240cm - 3.7m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Bees
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Hedges And Screens, Beds And Borders, Small Gardens
Compare All Syringa (Lilac)
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Syringa (Lilac)
Guides with
Syringa (Lilac)

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