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Syringa vulgaris

Phonetic Spelling
si-RING-gah vul-GAIR-iss
Description

Common lilac is a highly fragrant, spring-flowering shrub or small tree.  There are hundreds of cultivars available including single and double flowers of various colors including white, cream, rose, magenta, pinkish-purple, lavender, and purple.  The pungently sweet fragrance is delightful but can be overpowering to some asthmatics. 

Most plants are grafted so suckers should be removed from rootstock to maintain the appearance and prevent unwanted spread.  This plant grows rapidly to fill its space.  It makes excellent cut flowers but after it's spectacular mid to late spring bloom, the shrub is of little interest in the landscape with its leggy branches and leaves that are susceptible to powdery mildew. 

Lilac does best in cold winter climates as they require a long period of winter chill for the buds to mature. Late frost will sometimes kill the buds, so it is best sited in a protected location. It is tolerant of different soil types but does not do well in soil that is highly acidic or poorly drained.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insect pests include scales, borers, leaf miners, thrips, and caterpillars. Powdery mildew can seriously affect the appearance of the foliage in the summer but does little permanent damage to the shrub. Prune the center of the plant the help with the airflow.  Additional disease problems including blights, leaf spots, wilts, ringspot virus, and honey fungus. 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Entrance Statement, Fescue Grass
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Agincourt Beauty'
  • 'Josee'
  • 'Ludwig Spaeth'
  • 'Sensation'
'Agincourt Beauty', 'Josee', 'Ludwig Spaeth', 'Sensation'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#hummingbirds#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#white flowers#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#partial sun#moths#edible flowers#blue flowers#cut flowers#low maintenance#spring flowers#cottage garden#moist soil#cpp#well-drained soil#flowering shrub#deer resistant#mountains#rich soil#cutting garden#alkaline soil tolerant#pollinator plant#fantz#suckers#leggy#clay soils tolerant#mildew#perfume#butterfly friendly#woodlands
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Agincourt Beauty'
  • 'Josee'
  • 'Ludwig Spaeth'
  • 'Sensation'
'Agincourt Beauty', 'Josee', 'Ludwig Spaeth', 'Sensation'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#hummingbirds#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#white flowers#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#partial sun#moths#edible flowers#blue flowers#cut flowers#low maintenance#spring flowers#cottage garden#moist soil#cpp#well-drained soil#flowering shrub#deer resistant#mountains#rich soil#cutting garden#alkaline soil tolerant#pollinator plant#fantz#suckers#leggy#clay soils tolerant#mildew#perfume#butterfly friendly#woodlands
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Syringa
    Species:
    vulgaris
    Family:
    Oleaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    An essential oil obtained from the flowers can be used to make perfume. Green and brown dyes can be obtained from the leaves and a green dye from the flowers.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Balkan Peninsula
    Wildlife Value:
    Lilac attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. The nectar of the flowers is food for long-tongued bees, butterflies, and possibly moths. The caterpillars of several moths feed on the foliage.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Fragrance
    Edibility:
    Flowers can be eaten raw or folded into a batter and fried to make fritters.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 16 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Conical
    Erect
    Irregular
    Multi-stemmed
    Pyramidal
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a smooth, flattened dehiscent capsule (3/4"), borne in large panicles at the terminal tips of branches. The capsules are initially green, but mature to brown and are divided into 2 segments. There are 4 seeds per capsule.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Cream/Tan
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The inflorescence is a panicle of cymes, conical, usually grow in pairs, terminal, to 8 in. Flowers are numerous and may be lilac, blue, mauve, lavender, white, pink, and are highly fragrant. They have a tubular corolla with 4 spreading lobes, a short tubular calyx with 4 teeth, a pistil with a single style, and 2 inserted stamens.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are heart-shaped, opposite, usually simple. They are acuminate, truncate, entire, dark grey-green to blue-green, and glabrous.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Bark Description:
    Light grey-brown bark has small raised lenticels and raised leaf scars.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Angular
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stems are stout, angled, 4-sided on newer stems, lustrous brown, glabrous, small raised lenticels, longitudinally furrowed, and flaking on older stems, which are generally grey.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Patio
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Small groups
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems