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Lilac, Fragrant Syringa vulgaris

Fragrant Lilac - Syringa vulgaris
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Spectacular flowers in shades of lilac, light purple, or lavender make this old-time lilac a garden favorite. The long-lasting flower clusters bloom in April or May and are framed with lush green foliage. It is as popular today as it ever was. Their nostalgic fragrance adds to the "coming of spring." Lilac is an extremely hardy shrub and can be used as an individual specimen plant, informal hedge, shrub border, windbreak, or screen. Tolerates many soil types and does well in full sun or partial shade. Grows 8'-15' high with a 6'-12' spread.

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Zones 3 - 7 Zones 3 - 7
Hardiness Zones 3 - 7
The Fragrant Lilac can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the zone map. View Map
Flowering Tree Flowering Tree
Type of tree
Flowering Trees, Shrubs
8' - 15' High 8' - 15' High
Mature Height
The Fragrant Lilac grows to be 8' - 15' feet in height.
6' - 12' Spread 6' - 12' Spread
Mature Spread
The Fragrant Lilac has a spread of about 6' - 12' at full maturity.
Medium Growth Medium Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a medium growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
This lilac does well in full sun, partial shade.
Various Soils Various Soils

The common lilac grows well in acidic, alkaline, moist, sandy, well drained soils.

Rounded Shape Rounded Shape
This lilac has rounded shape.

Spectacular flowers with a fine fragrance make this old time lilac a garden favorite. It is as popular today as it ever was. The lilac colored flowers with their nostalgic aroma add to the "coming of spring. "It is an extremely hardy shrub. The lilac can be used as an individual specimen plant, informal hedges, shrub borders, windbreaks, and screens. It is a good cut flower to force for indoor use.


The lilac is a deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub with an irregular, rounded outline. It is fast growing when young, but slows to about one foot a year with age. The stems are dark gray to gray-brown, and the wood is strong. The leaves are dark green to blue-green above and pale green below. In shades of lilac, light purple, or lavender, the clusters of four petal flowers bloom in April or May. They are extremely fragrant, While the lilac grows best in sunny sites, it will not tolerate hot, humid conditions. It prefers well drained, moist soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. The soil can be supplemented with peat or leaf mold. Old flowers should be removed as soon as they fade. The best time to prune lilacs is just flowering. It is preferable to prune the shrub to emphasize medium-aged wood, which will produce good blooms and still lend good size to the plant. To do this, remove one-third of the oldest stems at ground level every year. At the same time, any corrective pruning, such as removing conflicting branches or sucker growth can be done. Older lilacs that are a major landscape feature can be pruned as small multiple-branched trees, removing sucker growth and emphasizing a few large, old trunks. The shrub also can be trimmed into a single stemmed tree. Overgrown lilacs can be cut to within a few inches of the ground. Within 3-4 years, they will flower again, For a hedge, plant about 3-4 feet apart depending upon the mature height.

Wildlife Value

attracts butterflies


The common lilac is a native of southeastern Europe. Lilac is an old English word that has its roots in the Arabic word layak and the Persian word nilak, from nil meaning "blue." The genus name syringa means "tube" in Greek which refers to the individual flower shape. It has been cultivated since 1563. Hundreds of cultivars have been developed since that time. The French hybrids are cultivars of the common lilac. The "French" comes from Victor Lemoine whose nursery in France produced a great many of these hybrids. Purple lilacs signify the first emotions of love while white lilacs symbolize modesty, purity, and youth.


The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, 2"-5" wide, dark green to bluish green in summer, no significant fall color.

Flower Color

Very fragrant, light purple, 1/2" florets borne in 4"-8" panicles usually in pairs on previous year's growth.

Bloom Time

late spring