It is lilac time again; the signal that we’re half way through spring and that summer is just around the corner. Lilac time means that we can finally open the windows to warm, fragrant air. Lilac time means that school is almost out for the year; it’s the season of graduations and weddings. I love lilac time!
Lilacs are members of the genus Syringa, and range in size from dwarf (5’x5’) types that are perfect for smaller gardens, to large (15”x12’) tree types that make wonderful specimen plants. Most lilacs feature large clusters (panicles) of small flowers that range in color from white to pink to lavender, deep purple, and red-violet. Their hardiness in tough settings, reliable annual bloom, and distinctive fragrance make them enormously popular choices for home gardens and commercial sites and public parks.
The common lilacs, syringe vulgaris, are large (12-15’x 8’), vase shaped shrubs that are super tough, but do tend to sucker. The French hybrids, such as ‘Charles Joly’ (red, double) and ‘President Grevy’ (blue, double) are similar in size and shape but don’t have that annoying tendency to sucker. A slightly smaller (8’x4’), but still traditional form of lilac is Royalty, Syringa x presoniae ‘Royalty’ (purple to violet flowers). Miss Kim, Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim,’ is considered the best of the dwarf lilacs with a slightly later bloom time and especially fragrant flowers.