Prized for its delightful fragrance, Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac) is a mainstay of the spring landscape in northern and colder climates. Easy to grow, tough as nails, deer resistant and relatively free from major pests, Common Lilacs are one of the most effective flowering shrubs. Tailored to meet the needs of all gardens, this species counts 2000 cultivars.
- Native to southern Europe, Common Lilacs are deciduous shrubs of irregular outline, often becoming leggy over time.
- Typically blooming in late spring for 3-4 weeks, Common Lilac is the longest blooming species within the genus. Its wonderfully fragrant flowers may be single or double and are available in a wide range of colors including white, cream, rose, magenta, pinkish-purple, lavender, and purple. They occur at the tips of the shoots in long panicles, up to 8 in. (20 cm), before or as the leaves mature. They make wonderful cut flowers for the home. Cultivars of this species can be early, midseason or late midseason bloomers. With thoughtful planning, it is possible to have some lilacs in full bloom for at least 6 weeks.
- The foliage of dark green to blue-green leaves remains attractive in summer, although it is susceptible to powdery mildew. Provide good air circulation.
- Most Common Lilacs grow between 8-15 ft. (240-450 cm) but there are a few cultivars that are medium shrubs, 4-8 ft. tall, or even dwarf shrubs that rarely grow more than 3-4 ft. tall (90-120 cm).
- Common Lilacs are very versatile and commonly used as screens, hedges or as specimens. Dwarf Lilacs are suitable plants for small gardens and even containers, where they bring their wonderful color and scent.
- Choose a proper site for your lilac with good drainage, good soil, good sun and provide good care. Full sun lovers, lilacs are easily grown in fertile, humus-rich, alkaline to neutral, dry to medium, well-drained soils. They thrive in chalk but dislike acidic soils. Light shade is tolerated but the best flower production occurs in full sun.
- Common 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 for this species are zones 3 to 7. However, lilac cultivars with low-chill requirements have been bred for warmer zones (generally to zone 8).
- Lilacs begin to set buds for the following year shortly after they finish blooming. If pruning is desired, it should be done immediately after flowering to maintain flower production the next year.
- Common Lilacs have a tendency to sucker. Promptly remove root suckers to maintain a neat appearance and prevent unwanted colonial spread.