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Lilacs in Spring

Posted on 15 January 2011

April 7th, 2010
by Anna Bellamie for the Landscape Network

Of all the plants in the world, the lilac may just be one of the loveliest. The genus is comprised of around 20 different species (and 1,000 varieties!), all of which are fragrant, hearty, and beautiful. The most common shade is that of a light purple, but lilacs can also commonly be seen in varying shades of white, cream, pale yellow, and the rarer deep burgundy.

Some call it a shrub, some call it a small tree. But either way, it’s a fine and lasting addition to any home landscape, providing shade and ample flowers for cutting that can scent your living space for months. The key to maximizing the flower output is actually not pruning them- an unpruned shrub will produce every year while a pruned one will have one to five years without blossoming. Despite this fact, some gardeners will recommend to prune a lilac every year. But let’s be honest, what’s more important- the shape of the shrub or the fabulous blooms that can be harvested?

Historically, the lilac symbolizes love, in Greek and Lebanese cultures especially, and is often associated with Easter, when they begin to flower for the season. The city of Spokane, WA holds an annual lilac festival and parade, solidifying its nickname as the “Lilac City”.

This gorgeous plant only blooms for a few weeks per year, so for maximum potential, it’s best to plant several different varieties, to stagger the flowering periods. They grow best in moderate climates. New bushes can take up to four years to produce blooms, but once established, can last centuries. Evidence of this can be seen up an down the East Coast. Ideal soil conditions are slightly acidic to alkaline. Though they are generally hearty, they do require ample watering (up to an inch per week). The lilac can be subject to fungus issues.

The lilac remains one of the classic blooms to complete any fine garden, with flowers that produce a wonderful scent that both lasts and carries throughout an entire home.

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