Lilacs, Syringa vulgaris, are deciduous shrubs that can be grown and pruned easily. Lilacs are used in shrub borders, informal hedges, as hedges, or as specimen plants. Find facts and info on growing and caring for the lilac syringa vulgaris varieties.
Lilacs Facts and Info
The common lilac is an old-fashioned favorite that has that has been around for a long time. Lilac flowers come in lilac, lavender, pink, or white depending on the variety. Lilacs tend to grow very well in colder climates. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Plants grow and flower best in fertile loam that is rich in organic matter, but they will tolerate most soils.
The fragrant lilac-colored flowers are the only ornamental part of this plant, so it is best used in the shrub border where other plants can offer summer and fall interest. The flowers are often used for cutting.
Care of Lilacs
Lilacs prefer consistent moisture throughout the growing season, but once mature they can withstand drought. Feed them every spring with a good plant food, such as Miracle Gro.
Remove the flower heads right after blooming to prevent seed formation, which reduces flowering the next year. Remove a few of the oldest stems all the way to the ground each year to keep the plants from becoming overgrown.
Propagation of Lilacs: Plant seeds in moist peat moss and chill for 90 days followed by warm temperatures for 60 days. Some plants reduce suckers that can be dug in early spring and replanted.
Pests and Diseases: Lilacs are susceptible to several insect and disease problems, but most are not serious enough to kill plants. Reduce chances of powdery by planting in full sun and allow for circulation around the shrub. Lilacs will rarely die from powdery mildew.
Pruning is necessary to maintain an attractive form and have abundant blooms. First, remove any stems that look sick or dead, then take off the oldest unproductive canes, any skinny suckers, and wild twiggy growths. Keep the biggest stems for the shrub’s framework but cut out one-quarter of the remaining old stems. Remove all but the strongest suckers. Repeat this process each year just after bloom to keep your lilac blooming its best.
Every few years, sprinkle about a cup of limestone around the base of each lilac if grown on acid soils. Lilacs prefer low fertility, and if fertilizing, do so just after bloom. Syringa has one season of interest, spring, and is generally pest free or pest tolerant. It may be susceptible to frost damage, and pests and diseases such as lilac scales and borers and lilac bacterial blight. Powdery mildew is common and ugly but will not hurt the plant.
Syringa Vulgaris Varieties
Syringa vulgaris ‘Alba’ has white, single flowers in fragrant clusters. It grows 12-15’h x 10-12 w.
S. vulgaris ‘Edith Cavell’ is a double white that grows 8-12’w.
S. vulgaris ‘Krasavitsa Mokvy’ has pink-lilac buds that open to double-flowered, white blooms, tinged a pale lavender that grows 8-12’ h and w.
S. vulgaris ‘Marie Frances’ is a single, pink growing 8-12’ h and w.
S. vulgaris ‘Monge’ is a single, dark purple with heights of 8-12’ h and w.
S. vulgaris ‘Primrose’ is a single, creamy yellow-green buds open to light yellow blooms. Grows 8-12’ h and w.
S. vulgaris ’Sensation’ is a single, deep purple that opens to a purple with white edge and 8-12 feet high and wide.
S. Vulgaris ‘Wedgewood Blue’ is a single, blue flowers with lilac-pink bus in pendant clusters. (Same heights 8-12’).
Preston lilac (S. x prestoniae) hybrids bloom later, and the scent is not as sweet. Flower clusters tend to hang or nod, plants are resistant to powdery mildew. They may or may not sucker.
(S. x byacinthiflora) has a more formal growth habit. The green summer foliage often turns reddish purple in fall and do not sucker.