Plant Profile: Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

The Lilac is a large, ornamental shrub whose flowers emit one of the most beautiful scents found in nature. On a sunny, breezy day, I can smell the lilacs in my side yard all the way down the block.

   The Mid-Atlantic area is pretty much the southern most region that lilacs can flourish in, because they need to experience a winter freeze and like a temperate climate. They prefer a sunny, well-ventilated location and can take almost all soil types. 

   The only real problem for them in our region is that they are prone to powdery mildew. In our humid climate, most show signs of it by late summer. It will not kill the plant; it is just unsightly.

   Remember to prune them after they finish flowering. Trim the bush to shape it and remove suckers at the same time. You can give them some leaf mulch or aged manure as compost, but don’t over-fertilize them.

   The ‘Bloomerang’ Lilac was introduced to the market in recent years. It re-blooms throughout the growing season. This plant is a bit controversial among old-school gardeners who like their blooms to stay “in season.” In my opinion, flowering too often or not at the “correct” time is hardly a reason to dislike a plant! I am partial to the old standard lilacs, though, and find them to be hardier, more-robust plants.

   Other new introductions include dwarf varieties. Lilacs are also available in shades other than the classic blue-purple. Look for white, pink, and yellow kinds. 

Try planting a Lilac in your garden today – you can grow that!

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Plant Profile: Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)