Lilacs for our area

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Does anyone have any suggestions for lilac varieties that are good for our area and can tolerate our hot summers? I miss having that scent in the summers and would like to add a couple to the landscape. Any ideas, suggestions, or experience? I'm thinking of a shrub size (3-6 feet) vs. larger trees.

Johns Island, SC

Best suggestion I can give you jijO, is "forget it". They just don't like the climate down here. And I've tried everything to make them grow here. I know you won't listen (I didn't!), so you'll just have to try it for yourelf--- but really and truly, they can't/won't take the heat/humidity down here. They need a much longer cooling time than this climate can provide. But there are some alternatives available that are equally delightful, fragrance-wise, that WILL grow here. My favorite is Cestrum Nocturnum, but Sweet Almond (botanical name escapes at the moment) is a real close second. There's lots of them...

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Bummer :(

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Miss Kim
I think maybe 4-5 feet. A pale color to the flowers - very fragrant.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

The info I just looked at said 6-8 feet but you can trim to 4 with no issues - must be slow growing because I bet my 4 are only 4 feet and I haven't cut them back at all. The shrubs don't like it dry for long periods and do like full sun but will tolerate some shade with fewer blooms.

(Zone 9a)

A successful grower in Columbia told me that Miss Kim needs a good application of lime each year.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

i didn't know that - thanks, I will do.

Bluffton, SC(Zone 9a)

Stono do you mean this plant? http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/107877/

I think I'm going on a scented plant kick next year. Have a few fragrant plants/trees but I need more that bloom continually or at least during the summer.

I'm looking for stuff you can smell at a distance BTW.

Florence, SC(Zone 8a)

I tried a lilac a few years ago, and it just did not grow. I ended up digging it up and replacing it with a crepe myrtle....which my neighbor called the "lilac of the south". LOL

I miss them too. I grew up with an entire hedge of lilacs on our property in New Jersey.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

I have not had a problem with Miss Kim here in NC piedmont area (near Chapel Hill - 7B) I bought all 4 at a local landscaper's nursery. The business has helped me with hardscape in the front yard and the owner won't keep anything in the nursery that won't do well in this area. That is why I got brave and bought. I grew up with lilac too in NY and I sure missed the the fragrance. These aren't those big beautiful blooms I remember - No huge dark purple clusters - look more like butterfly bush bloom - and a medium pink - light pink but very very very fragrant.

Raleigh, NC

wow, I was going to add in, you might get them to grow, you might get a bloom off some of the more modern, almost no fragrance ones, but you can forget about the fragrance you remember. Because they do need the cold for that and we don't get it.

but now I just might have to try Miss Kim.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

My husband (very wierd - can do without fragrance - just likes green green shrubs --will stretch to yellow coloration - and no fragrance necessary --except cut grass and ..... he does like skunk!! (Just not up close rather when a passing whiff when driving) (I told you he is wierd) says "what IS that odor?" when Miss Kim is in bloom - the fragrance is strong and quite lovely (so when he says 'odor' we are not talking about an unpleasant odor --like bradford pear in bloom). Miss Kim perfumes the entire yard. (Keep in mind there are 4 small out there but they did a great job when still in the pot!)

Raleigh, NC

speaking of perfume, or odor, has anyone ever had gardenias bloom this time of year? we didn't get much bloom earlier. but the standard size is blooming now.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

This Miss Kim is looking like it might be worth a shot. Missingrosie -- what type of sun exposure do you have yours in? part, full, dappled, etc.

My gardenias aren't blooming right now. I have 5 in front and 3 out back.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

West-Southwest exposure for three. About 4 feet from foundation - so I think reflects heat and still no issues. Mostly sun in summer but late in afternoon I think gets some shade since wooded all around.

One of the shrubs faces north and it is puny in comparison to the others BUT it has been nibbled to death by the deer.

If you want another fragrance maker Edgeworthia is great (UGLY in my opinon) situated where you can't especially see it three seasons in the winter the blooms are great and will perfume the yard. I will be glad to give you a 'baby' if you like --- I have all of mine facing east or south and does well. I think I have one or two about 1.5 feet high. The rest are huge. I have never tried to do cuttings but you are welcome to those too. I am in Hillsborough.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

edgeworthia

Thumbnail by missingrosie
Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

another

Thumbnail by missingrosie
Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

I'd love a baby, missingrosie! The flowers are so pretty. Does it get leaves at all? You don't happen to know which variety it is you have, do you you? I looked on the plantfiles and noted a couple varieties.

I'll dmail you about the baby. :-)

Raleigh, NC

if you have an extra baby, or a rooted cutting from Miss Kim, I'd trade ya irises for 'em, caveat - I have every color of the rainbow and you'd have to tell me which color.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

bon - I'd love iris - but so would the deer! I've tired.
I don't have any rooted cuttings from Ms. Kim - is the the time of year to do ? I thought spring. But I don't know anything about propagation. I'd be happy to give you what you need and you can do the cutting. Maybe if Jl is getting the edgeworthia - and you both are in Raleigh, You could meet up. You just let me know.

Johns Island, SC

Yeah, Core, that's it! Aloysia virgatta, "sweet almond bush"! Easy to grow, easy to maintain, easy to propogate, but NOT for "formal downtown gardens" ! I love it because it fits my site so well (wild, unruly natural woodsy growth). And the fragrance is kick-ass, particularly when combined with Clerodendrum Nocturnum, which blooms at about the same time. They're different fragrances, but somehow combine incredibly well. Ya just have to walk the dogs down my driveway @10p.m. to really get it. Can't explain it in words... It's a unique experience. But it's not for most average "backyards" (too wild and unruly). But definately a great plant worthy of consideration ...

Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi jlj072174 - don't pretend you're in zone 8a, we're really a 7b in spite of some warm winters recently. And back in the day we even had sub-zero temps...

I've had very good luck with Syringa/Lilac cv 'Blue Skies' (see my pics in PF http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/188466/). Even after a mild winter it will have lots of flowers. 'Blue Skies' has the true lilac flower size, color and fragrance of the older varieties. The mass-market catalogs say it's "zone 4-9" but based on what I've read any French lilac (S. vulgaris cv) is unlikely to perform well in the SE US past zone 8. But here in Raleigh 'Blue Skies' holds its own. The only problem I've noticed is sometimes the foliage gets a bit of mildew in late summer/autumn if the weather is cool and humid, but that doesn't seem to cause any long-term damage. I suggest planting in full sun and don't let it get too dry in the summer (lilacs are not very drought tolerant).

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Great photos Tom. Miss Kim is pinker than that. You are right it does look like the old fashioned lilacs I remember. I am going to try it. I wonder how it would do with a spring planting.... may be hard to keep it watered enough to make it through the summer.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

missingrosie - if we have a "normal" or at least not too dry summer it should be fine. I didn't have to water my lilac at all this past summer. I did water it during the drought of 2007 using "recycled" water and I seem to remember I had to water it some in 2002 when it was first planted. But other than that it's been pretty low-maintenance,

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Tom -- thanks for sharing the info and your experience w/blue skies. Knowing there's someone in my particular area who's had success with it here makes me more comfortable giving it a shot. I'll have to check around online to see if I can find one, as I don't recall seeing them in any of our nurseries here.

As for the zone, I'd read something a while back that we had been bumped up to zone 8a. Personally, it makes no difference to me -- doesn't change the weather at all. But I was going by what I'd read ... on this site, I believe.

Raleigh, NC

Tom, I took a class with Tony Avent a couple years back. He explained that the line between 7a and 7b went diagnonally (sp?) through the center of Raleigh, with north Raleigh being 7a and southern wake county being 7b. think he's the only plantsman/guru I personally know hereabouts.

but I read in the Nuisance and Disturber about two years ago that the Forestry service reclassified us to zone 8, they'd changed the zones to not only be based on the cold we get, but also on the heat we get.

This is great. Do y'all know if lilacs, if a branch is bent (without breaking) to the ground, will it take root?

was hoping someone would try with their lilac and trade me for some irises? I have over 100 named varieties, mostly purchased direct from the hybridizers. I'm willing to give up iris space for a fragrant lilac! and let me just put in the record, that's unbelievable for me! Have a few nice hostas, too.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Off topic -- I love PDN! And Tony's catalogs are not only full of beautiful plants, but heavy on the humor! I wanted so bad to visit their tropical gardens this fall; unfortunately, pneomonia kept me at home. :( There's always next year, I suppose!

Raleigh, NC

Ah, I'll take ya down there sometime. I was (still am) one of their volunteers. Been down healthwise myself and haven't been in a year. If you think the catalogue is fun, the gardens are a hoot. lots of humor there, too! If I go now, Jeremy will have me hauling mulch! think I'll wait another week or two.

Tony's staff are as much fun, and full of information, as he is! But you really must sign up for one of his classes sometime. They fill up early, though. He is twice as fun in person as his writing, and you'll learn more in a few hours than you could anywhere else.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

I love PDN - the gardens are absolutely beautiful. The gardens can be visited without it being an 'open house weekend' - is that right?

I can't grow many things zone 8 - and so I think we are (at least in my backyard) fairly secure in 7 a or b.

Tom - I hear what you are saying about the summer and drought - but if I plant the lilac in the spring my concern is that it won't be established enough to withstand the summer conditions - your shrubs are established and I am sure that is key to their doing well.

Raleigh, NC

well, not really open to visits other times, at least not the parts of it. but I think you can walk Juniper Level Bontanical Garden if you email and ask. you need permission to go beyond there to the test beds or green houses. I personally love seeing the test beds with the colocasias in it. Tony is working with a breeder in Hawaii.

Yeah, I like to plant shrubs in september, too. At least in my opinion, we're less likely to get damage from cold than we are to get overstressed plants from heat and humidity.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

I'd love to go down there again. I usually make it at least once per year, but hadn't been in the fall yet, which is when the tropicals are supposed to be at their peak. I went both weekends in the first open house this year, and took two different friends with me (who are now hooked!). I wan to take a propagation class next year, as I'm mainly "winging it" now. I'd like to learn a little more so I can have better success. So much of what I have in my yard and love is from there, so I figured that'd be the place to learn.

(Zone 9a)

I want to take his propagation class also. I teach propagation classes all the time but I know he has some new and interesting ideas that I could use.

This past spring I had a family wedding and vacations on the days of his classes and the 2010 schedule has not been posted yet. (at least it had not been posted the last time I checked.)

Bonjon, do you have any idea about when he updates the schedules?

Raleigh, NC

nope. I seldom have contact with him directly.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

I'm at the Lowes on Capital Blvd in Raleigh and they have Miss Kim lilacs for $8/ea right now. Think I'll try a couple and see how they do.

Raleigh, NC

I've grown 'Miss Kim' for several years, in a protected spot with sun only until about midday. I, too, was told to lime it every year, and I have. While it hasn't grown a ton, it has done pretty well and rewarded me with a few blooms every year.

FYI, I didn't plant it directly into our clay, but in an amended, raised bed. The bed does have clay in it, but amended with other organic matter and lime. My plant is still pretty young, but I suspect one of these years, after finally getting settled in, its going to grow a bit faster.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Thank you for sharing that. I had thought about putting them on the west side of my house, where they'd receive the later afternoon/evening sun, but maybe I should try an area in the front of the house instead, which would only get the morning and/or part/filtered sun. I'll have to take a good look around this afternoon, since I'll be home after lunch, and see what that area looks like in terms of exposure.

Raleigh, NC

I definitely would not put them on the west side. Just looked at mine today, btw, and it is covered with buds and fully leafed out. This will be, as I recall, its 3rd season, so maybe its all happy now and is going to really shine. Or maybe it just really enjoyed our cold winter and some rain! You will probably need to water them well during our hot months, prep the soil well, and shoot for more morning/midday sun than afternoon, but I think Lilacs can do well here.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Thanks much. I still haven't planted them yet; just keeping them watered. Of course, today, that means just rinsing the pollen off them. I have some areas along my front yard that they might do well in as well, and receive morning sun. I'll give that a look.

Where do you have yours if I may ask?

Raleigh, NC

I'll try to take a pic, as its hard to explain, but basically, my yard runs from north to south, with a border of trees/shrubs down each side and open area in the middle. On the west side of the house, there are about 15 yards between the house and the trees. This area gets full sun from about 10:00-1:00, as the sun peeks over the house and moves East to West (still with me??). I have a chicken coop and run tucked up under the trees on this side. The coop area sticks out farther than the run, and in this "L" area I have planted 'Miss Kim.' So she gets several hours of full AM/Mid sun, and bright light after that, and is protected from wind by the coop area protruding out. Looking for a pic......

Raleigh, NC

your yard sounds exactly like mine. north south is long axis of a long lot. Tall trees between the houses down the property lines, which still throws some shade out into the open middle, but also protects. House faces south. East side can get some morning shade from those trees that side, west side gets afternoon shade from trees along that side.

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.
BACK TO TOP