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Pekin LilacSyringa pekinensis

  • Pekin Lilac bush - Syringa pekinensis
A large, multi-stemmed shrub with an upright, arching, loose and open, symmetrical to irregular habit. The leaves are dark green The small. creamy white flowers are borne on panicles in late spring or early summer. The flowers are smaller than the Japanese tree lilac, Syringa reticulata. Lilacs are plants for cold weather and must have a dormancy period in order for them to flower. The bark is brownish colored. Some seedlings will develop beautiful exfoliating bark, while most seedlings will have an indistinct, dark, scaled bark. It adapts to a variety of soil conditions and needs full sum to partial shade. The Pekin lilac requires little pruning, It can be trained to develop a central leader for use as a single trunk tree. However, regular pruning will be required for several years to remove the drooping lower branches. It is probably the most pest-resistant lilac.

Hardiness Zones

The pekin lilac can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–7. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The Pekin lilac grows to a height of 15–20' and a spread of around 15' 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 Pekin lilac adapts to a wide variety of soil textures, slightly alkaline to acidic. It will also tolerate moderate drought.


This shrub:
  • Produces small creamy white flowers in 3–6" panicles that give off an aroma similar to honey or privet.
  • Blooms in late spring or early summer.
  • Is probably the most pest-resistant lilac.
  • Tolerates urban conditions
  • Features simple, ovate to ovate-lanceolate leaves that are dark green in color and 2–4" long.
  • Develops handsome reddish-brown bark.
  • Grows in an irregular shape that is upright, arching, loose and open.
  • Needs a cold-weather dormancy period to flower.
  • Can be pruned into a single-stemmed tree.

Wildlife Value

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


A native of northern China, it is also known as the Chinese lilac. There are 24 species of lilacs, two come from Europe and others from Asia. The oldest living lilacs in North America are believed to have been planted at the Governor Wentworth estate in Portsmouth, NH, around 1750.