Plant It: Lilacs


Lilacs aren't very common in our area, although great strides have been made in developing more heat/humidity tolerant versions in recent years. A demand for these lovely, heavenly-scented shrubs led horticulturists to develop such lilacs as “Miss Kim,” a cultivar of Syringa patula, which has been publicized as a lilac that can take hot Southern conditions. Another lilac mentioned as a candidate is Syringa oblata var. dilatata, a variety of the Korean early lilac.

Dick Bir, a retired researcher and N.C. Cooperative Extension specialist, wanted to find lilacs that “look and smell like lilacs.” He conducted trials on lilacs for 20 years at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Fletcher. These long-term observations led Bir to conclude that one of the best lilacs for the South were the cultivars in the Syringa x hyacinthiflora group. This hybrid species is the result of crossing Syringa oblata andSyringa vulgaris. Many garden centers will have some of these cultivars available this spring. For warmer areas,Syringa oblata selections and hybrids deserve a try in your garden!

If you have lilacs you might try pruning them several times per year. I have found that this results in reblooming every time, although after the first full flush of blooms, the ones that follow will be smaller and more sporadic.

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