Alphabetical Plant Listing

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Lilac Bushes

Common Lilac, English Lilac, French Lilac, Early Flowering Lilac, Dwarf Korean Lilac


A lilac in full bloom, with its heavenly fragrance, is a breathtaking sight. Easy to grow, tough as nails, undemanding, and deer resistant, these hardy shrubs have been tailored to meet the needs of most gardens.

All you need to know about Lilacs

  • Lilacs (Syringa) are members of the olive family of flowering plants, Oleaceae. There are about 20 species of Lilacs that are native to Europe and Asia.

Most popular Lilac choices for the landscape

  • Common Lilac or French Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) has been cherished for more than 500 years for its intoxicating fragrance. Blooming in late spring, it is the showiest of the lilac species. Native to southeastern Europe, it is widely grown in temperate areas of the world and counts over 2000 cultivars with single or double flowers in deep purple, lavender, blue, red, pink, white, and pale creamy yellow. Easy to grow, and tough as nails, it is a mainstay of the spring landscape in northern and colder climates and is hardy in zone 3-7. Common lilac reaches a height of approximately 20 feet (6 meters).  
     
  • Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri 'Palibin') is a compact shrub covered with a profusion of sweetly-fragrant upright panicles of lilac-pink single flowers in late spring to early summer. 'Palibin' is one of the most dwarfed or slow-growing of all lilacs, growing only 5 feet tall (150 cm). Hardy in zone 3-7, it is perfect for small gardens.
     
  • Manchurian lilac (Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim') is a charming, compact Lilac boasting sweetly fragrant, lavender to ice blue flowers in late spring. It also provides good fall color with its dark green foliage turning attractive burgundy shades. A slow grower, reaching 6-8 feet in height (180-240 cm), this Lilac is hardy in zone 3-8.
     
  • Early Flowering Lilac (Syringa x hyacinthiflora) rewards us with an abundance of exquisitely scented flowers in mid-spring, about 7-10 days earlier than the Common Lilacs. But this is not its only charm. The foliage often colors up to shades of red, purple, and gold in fall, extending their season of interest. This Lilac bush is highly resistant to powdery mildew, unlike many other lilac varieties, and grows up to 12 feet. tall (360 cm). It is hardy in zones 2-9 depending on the Lilac cultivar.
     
  • Reblooming Lilac does not only bloom in spring for a few fleeting weeks. It prolongs its presence as it repeats blooms in summer and fall, bringing its wonderful color and scent to the garden.

Lilac Basics

  • Lilacs are shrubs of colder climates. Most of them perform well in hardiness zones 3-7 and need a period of cold-initiated dormancy to trigger flowering. However, some varieties are cold hardy to zone 2 while a few others are heat tolerant to zone 9 and do not require a winter chill. Lilacs are not recommended for hot, humid areas.
     
  • Depending on where you live, and the lilac varieties you choose, Lilacs can provide color and fragrance from April through June. There are early-season, mid-season, late season Lilac varieties.
     
  • Lilacs perform best in full sun in fertile, humus-rich, neutral to alkaline soil, and well-drained soil.
     
  • Lilacs are very versatile. They make great border shrubs and are commonly used as screens, hedges, or specimens. Dwarf Lilacs are suitable plants for small gardens and even containers. For those gardeners with limited space, there are some Lilac bushes with a habit smaller than the Common Lilac
     
  • Common Lilacs have a tendency to sucker. Promptly remove root suckers to maintain a neat appearance and prevent unwanted colonial spread.
     
  • The sweetly scented flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Lilac is not generally a plant that deer or other animals seek out to eat, but if other food sources are scarce, they may come along and make a meal out of your Lilac.
     
  • Lilacs should be pruned out on a regular basis to promote flowering. 
     
  • Lilacs are subject to mildew, scale, borers, leafroll necrosis, pseudomonas blight, and other maladies.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 7
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Plant Family Syringa - Lilacs
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Hedges and Screens, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Syringa - Lilacs Great Plant Combination Ideas with Syringa - Lilacs Guides with Syringa - Lilacs

123rf, freya-photographer, Shutterstock

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
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Plant Family Syringa - Lilacs
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Hedges and Screens, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Syringa - Lilacs Great Plant Combination Ideas with Syringa - Lilacs Guides with Syringa - Lilacs

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