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Fragrant LilacSyringa vulgaris

  • Fragrant Lilac bush - Syringa vulgaris
  • Fragrant Lilac - Syringa vulgaris
  • Fragrant Lilac - Syringa vulgaris
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.

Hardiness Zones

The fragrant lilac can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–7. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The fragrant lilac grows to a height of 8–15' and a spread of 6–12' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This shrub grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this shrub, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The fragrant lilac grows well in acidic, alkaline, moist, sandy and well-drained soils.


This shrub:
  • Produces very fragrant, light purple, ½" florets borne in 4–8" panicles usually in pairs on previous year's growth.
  • Blooms in April or May.
  • Features simple, ovate leaves that are dark green to bluish-green in color and 2–5" long.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Should be planted 3-4' apart for a hedge.
  • Will not tolerate hot, humid conditions.
  • Can be pruned into a single-stemmed or multi-stemmed tree.

Wildlife Value

Lilacs attract butterflies, provide caterpillar food and offer cover for birds and 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.