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PlantFiles: Common Lilac, French Lilac
Syringa vulgaris

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Syringa (si-RING-gah) (Info)
Species: vulgaris (vul-GAIR-iss) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

57 members have or want this plant for trade.

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8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Flowers are good for cutting

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
By grafting
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 26 photos.
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15 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral yrrej On Sep 3, 2014, yrrej from El Paso, TX wrote:

Here in El Paso, the lilac does rather poorly unless grown in moist soil. It does very well at higher elevation in the nearby New Mexico pine forests. I have tried various types of lilacs here and they will dry up and die completely quite rapidly if they aren't watered constantly. They also fail to thrive in the way one would expect a lilac to perform. I have a lilac at death's door in my backyard that we brought down from Wyoming, where the weather isn't too dissimilar part of the year to the weather here, i.e. hot and dry, but it has simply clung to life for many years and this year, with only 3" of rain through September, it looks like it is finally going to cash in. Perhaps lilacs would do better down by the river, but not in areas once covered desert, which includes most of this city. I can't recommend getting any of them for here. The butterfly bush doesn't do particularly well here either unfortunately unless, again, it receives regular and deep watering.

Positive Mike_W On Aug 31, 2012, Mike_W from Sterling, MA wrote:

There is a lilac tree growing in my back yard that has been there since my father was a child. It was about 15 feet tall until we trimmed it back. A nasty ice storm had messed it up back in December 2008 and it needed a good trim to grow back into a nice shape. It flowers every spring with white flowers. I like it very much as purple lilacs are far more common than white.

I planted some new pink lilacs nearby but they were chewed down by rabbits. I decided to place a cage around them this year and I have been rewarded with about 2 feet of growth.

Neutral CindyFlaCt On Apr 8, 2010, CindyFlaCt from Sebastian, FL wrote:

I have more of a question than a comment, though like most others commenting on this flower I love and miss it after growing up in CT with lilacs blooming all around the yard to now living in Florida and occasionally seeing lilac if I make it to Ct early enough in the spring. My friend brought me a couple of lilac bushes back from NC where a man was selling them and stated they came from TN, I have yet to plant them (having received them 2 days ago) I am almost afraid but so much want them growing in my yard here in Florida. Any comment about it being possible? If so any suggestions on best place to plant them, perhaps under the shade of palm trees so the wicked summer sun wont burn them??? Thanks for any info.

Positive lehua_mc On Nov 5, 2009, lehua_mc from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Yes, my lilac suffers from powdery mildew after it has flowered. I haven't attempted any remedy, figuring the old gal hasn't changed her habits much despite it. Almost completely bare by November, and planted in front of an evergreen laurel hedge, it is a favorite hangout of the wintering backyard birds.

Positive Malus2006 On Jun 4, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

They have very nice fragrance - they tend to be more often planted in the North part of the Eastern United States - from personal observation - there are a somewhat invisible line somewhere from southern Missouri through Kentucky and then curves north to southern Pennsylvanica where lilacs are more common north of that line while Crape Myrtle are more common south of that line. Out west, it becomes more fuzzy - mainly confined to the Northern Rockies Mountains with islands further down then a narrow belt in Oregon and Washington State.

The main negative factor is that they are very vulnerable to powdery mildrew - a white fuzz often develops on their leaves by mid summer and it is lethal to some young suckerlings that grows beneath the mature plants but not for those who grows on the edge and get enough sun. They are also possible a death trap for birds trying to raise youths in my personal observation - they may appear to be thick and provide security for birds but due to their wider branching, thin stems, and ability to flex over a large portion of the bush, so they literally shake the nest to pieces during high winds or throw babies to the ground and also make the nests vulnerable to blue jays and other small animals who preys on eggs and youths (cats and other similar body animals can't get to the nest - branches are too weak for them).

I have many speciments planted - they require a certain amount of sunlight to hit enough leaves to bloom - in shade they grows slower and have smaller leaves - unless trimmed by an expert (I am not one) they don't make good screencovers in partial shade to shady locations. They will make very heavy amounts of flowers and have much less mildrew if they are planted where they get at least 6 hours of sun which also coindence means that they get drier and stronger winds that lower the amount of mildrews.

They are also grown in both very old (even long gone houses - if you see common lilac and there is no house around then there were once one nearby - common lilac can't seed itself and only sucker a small distance from the parent plant but is very tough) and houses a few years old have them - the young suckering plants are easily dug up by serving the thick root connection to the parent plant and transplanted but must be constantly watered - they have very few fine hairs.

Positive tropicsofohio On Apr 9, 2008, tropicsofohio from Hilliard, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

we bought two of these 3 years ago in the fall. the first year, only one bush put two clusters of blooms, the next year, i transplanted them, and none bloomed, i was really bumbed:( but this spring, they are puting out many new clusters of flowers, and on one, 1 foot by 1 foot bush, i counted over 30 clusters of flowers! I cant wait to see what it looks like in full bloom!

Negative cactuspatch On Apr 4, 2008, cactuspatch from Alamogordo, NM (Zone 7b) wrote:

While many seem to enjoy this scent. Many of us are very allergic to lilacs. They not do not smell good to us but can cause lots of problems. I just want to suggest planting a crepe myrtle instead of a lilac. They are much prettier, bloom all summer, 9 months in my area. They come in many colors including all the purples. Since they don't smell they won't potentially make you and others sick.

Positive Opoetree On May 23, 2007, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

We have had about a dozen lilacs growning around our property for the past twenty years. This past spring they bloomed exceptionally well and the scent was heavenly. I was able to pick large bouquets and combine the lilacs with bunches of yellow roses...quite a showy combination! I always think of Louis May Alcott's UNDER THE LILACS story when I see lilacs. Such a totally attractive plant...visually and sensually.

Positive Photographer On Apr 22, 2007, Photographer from Moxee, WA (Zone 4a) wrote:

I got a few shovels of purple lilac root starts 2 years ago from our neighbor's overgrown Lilac. Now we have a dozen Lilac bushes growing in clumps along our fence line. I'd like to add yellow, red, blue, pink, white & the traditional lilac to the property. How could one have too many lilac shrubs? They are a no maintenance plant except you may find it beneficial to dig up new root starts every other year or so to stop the plant from spreading too much.

Positive WUVIE On Mar 26, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

One of my most fond memories as a child was the
oh-so-sweet smell of Lilac coming from the neighbor's
home next door.

Though I was later transplanted from New York to
New Mexico, around the map and finally landing in
Oklahoma, I knew I would have a Lilac of my own one day.

Cutting to the chase, you have to water your Lilac or
it won't make it. Silly me, I plunked a Lilac out in the
middle of the side yard and waited. And waited. But
at the time I didn't realize how important it was to water
in and keep your young plants watered. All throughout
the year, not just the 'growing' season, as all year is a
growing season for some things.

This year, my Lilac looks better than ever. I can't help
but to stick my face into the cluster of blooms and
inhale deeply. When the plants mature, you can smell
the fragrance from a good distance, a very heavy and
sweet, but pleasant smell.

I've taken additional cuttings in order to plant more of
them about our gardens.

A must have in the garden, indeed.

Karen Marie

Positive Big_Red On Mar 15, 2006, Big_Red from Bethelridge, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I was told that lilacs probably wouldn't do well in KY but my 2 year old bush (started from a sprout brought down from NH) is now about 5' high and has several buds that hopefully will blossom later this spring.

Positive Gabrielle On Jan 15, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

There's nothing like the scent of lilacs! Make sure and do any pruning as the blooms fade or just after, or else you cut the next year's blooms off. To rejuvenate old bushes, cut back a third of the oldest wood to the ground each year. Don't cut all of the short growth back unless you want all of your blooms up high. My information says that it is hardy in zones 3-8 and that it is okay in partial sun. Stratification aids germination of seeds. Blooms April-May in my garden.

Positive hoosierfarmboy On Dec 30, 2004, hoosierfarmboy from Franklinton, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have very fond and fragrant memories of lilacs from my childhood in Central Indiana. However, I have never heard of dividing the rootball to propagate; I have heard of separating rooted shoots, when one to two feet tall, from the mother plant's roots and of rooting etiolated (blanched by mounding soil or mulch around the shoot) shoots from the roots. New colors, cultivars, can be obtained from seeds.

Positive 433kfj On Dec 30, 2004, 433kfj from klamath falls, OR (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant does very well here, providing the buds don't get froze by a late frost. I grew up in a house surrounded on three sides of the lot by lilac hedges, 100' long on each side. My mom still lives there and the lilacs still bloom profusely (weather permitting ) with virtually no care. They get out of hand on the drive-way side of the property and have to be severely cut back every couple of years inorder to get out of the car on the driver's side. The other sides of the lot haven't been trimmed in years and could probably use it ( we moved there in '63, and the bushes had been there since ~40's-50'ish). Many of the stems have tree-like proportions, but a good trimming would undoubtably bring many more blooms. As it is, in a good year, the fragrance is enough to give you a headache! But it is a smell you will never forget .

Positive NANSUSHA On Oct 21, 2003, NANSUSHA wrote:

We had lilacs when I was growing up in Michigan, but I don't know of any that grow well in Florida.

Positive dejavu On Jul 2, 2003, dejavu from Rochester, NY wrote:

Great fragrance. Shoots sprout up nearby and can sometimes be successfully moved. These also grow wild here in Rochester, NY.

Positive haleygem On Jun 25, 2003, haleygem from Saugus, MA wrote:

This tree was here when we moved in. It was in tree form just needed pruning round the skirt of it. Flowers mostly on the top now, but lots of them with lots of fragrance. I can smell it in my bedroom window. It is about 8-9 feet tall, it gets partial sun and we have only just pruned it. We didn't know what it was when we moved in, as it was summer time, and we saw its first bloom this spring, short bloom. So now that we know what it is we pruned it and will feed it for I think the first time it ever got fed. Greta color lilac and great glossy green leaves. Zone 6 - NE

Positive PaulRobinson On May 18, 2003, PaulRobinson from Torrance, CA wrote:

Received as a very small offshoot from "wild" lilacs in Illinois, after five years it is eight feet tasll and blooms nicely here in Los Angeles, California. Full sun, well drained slightly alkaline soil, regularly fed and wateed. Suckers heavily. Too short a bloom period in late spring. Lovely aroma. Good cut flower.

Neutral Terry On Aug 30, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Lilac is one of the most notable fragrances grown in the common garden. A single sprig can scent an entire room.

A suckering shrub, it can be trained into a tree form if desired. Most cultivars require cold to flower, southern gardeners whose winters are mild may have better success with other species.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas
Chico, California
Jacumba, California
Merced, California
Oak View, California
Denver, Colorado
Jewett City, Connecticut
Dahlonega, Georgia
Chillicothe, Illinois
Grayslake, Illinois
Lombard, Illinois
Bloomfield, Indiana
Georgetown, Indiana
Greenville, Indiana
Shirley, Indiana
Sheldon, Iowa
Derby, Kansas
Tonganoxie, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Bethelridge, Kentucky
Calvert City, Kentucky
Houlton, Maine
Brookeville, Maryland
Mashpee, Massachusetts
Saugus, Massachusetts
Sterling, Massachusetts
Pinconning, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
Braham, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)
Minnetonka, Minnesota
Mathiston, Mississippi
Blue Springs, Missouri
Republic, Missouri
Lincoln, Nebraska
Claremont, New Hampshire
Franklin, New Hampshire
Munsonville, New Hampshire
Salisbury, New Hampshire
Edison, New Jersey
Neptune, New Jersey
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Bolton Landing, New York
Buffalo, New York
Geneseo, New York
Merrick, New York
Rochester, New York
Schenectady, New York
Staten Island, New York
Willsboro, New York
Vale, North Carolina
Belfield, North Dakota
Medora, North Dakota
Cleveland, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Hilliard, Ohio
Jamestown, Ohio
Nashport, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Gold Hill, Oregon
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Springfield, Oregon
Irwin, Pennsylvania
Kittanning, Pennsylvania
Milford, Pennsylvania
Smokerun, Pennsylvania
West Newton, Pennsylvania
Hope Valley, Rhode Island
Bulls Gap, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Clarksville, Texas
El Paso, Texas
Garland, Texas
Paris, Texas
Tremonton, Utah
West Dummerston, Vermont
Chantilly, Virginia
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Moxee, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Falling Waters, West Virginia
Pepin, Wisconsin
Watertown, Wisconsin
Kinnear, Wyoming
Riverton, Wyoming
Sheridan, Wyoming
Sundance, Wyoming

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