Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Common Lilac, French Lilac
Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation'

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Syringa (si-RING-gah) (Info)
Species: vulgaris (vul-GAIR-iss) (Info)
Cultivar: Sensation
Hybridized by Mearse; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1938

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

14 members have or want this plant for trade.


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:
White/Near White

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 softwood 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 18 photos.
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6 positives
No neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Mar 28, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The bicolored flowers are unique among lilacs. Plants with white flowers are not 'Sensation', and any dissatisfaction must be with the nursery and not with this cultivar.

Excellent fragrance.

This is a good performer here (Z6a) like all S. vulgaris, which for reliable performance require a substantial winter dormancy not possible south of Z6b/7a.

Positive JenDion On Apr 1, 2011, JenDion from Litchfield, NH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Mine is bicolor purple/white and extremely tough. I bought a house that had sat empty for several years, it had a row of lilacs that were in full sun, loamy-sandy compacted soil. Some of them flowered the first spring, and I realized there were several interesting cultivars. We moved them in 2009, and again (first spot was too shady in my opinion) in 2010 and they all seem to have survived. They get blazing full sun in an area with Ph of 6.5.
Most cultivars dislike acid soil.

Negative blallement On Jul 26, 2010, blallement from Amarillo, TX wrote:

I have a lilac bush, it has not bloomed. Seems to be growing, but has not produced any blooms, although it was in bloom when I bought it.
Thought it might be getting too much water, so I changed that.
Any suggestions ?

Negative jackstangle On Jul 15, 2009, jackstangle from La Conner, WA wrote:

This is my 2cd attempt at this plant. The 1st did not come true to color, it was a dingy white. So I got another & this one has curled leaves & looks sick but grows. Can anyone explain the curling leaves? It does NOT have mildew. Now it is spring & the aforementioned plant has bloomed. AGAIN it it white (albeit a prettier white with pink buds) Not the bordered flower I wanted. Next one I buy will be IN BLOOM!

Positive jenwaterston On Apr 15, 2009, jenwaterston from Havertown, PA wrote:

This is a truly beautiful specimen. I bought it at Costco a few years ago in a 3 gallon pot. My particular bush has white blooms as well, as it's a grafted variety. Last fall, it even rebloomed for me! It's carefree and disease-resistant and smells wonderful.

Positive Pashta On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love these. I grew up around lilacs, and I love the scent and color. I have one in white and one in purple. The purple one I transplanted last year because it was growing in a gutter, and I lost about half the plant. The other half that survived is doing very well. The flowers put out these funny looking green seeds (?) after the flowers had gone. Im thinking they are seeds anyway; I dont know what they are. I will take a picture and post them later. These are in full sun, and really only get whatever water falls from the sky. If it doesnt rain for a while I water them, otherwise for the most part they are on their own, and thrive.

Positive tabasco On May 18, 2005, tabasco from Cincinnati (Anderson Twp), OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

We planted a three foot tall specimen of 'sensation' in 2004 in a sunny, well-drained spot and were rewarded with lots of bloom this year on a five foot plant. The blossoms, while plentiful, failed to look bi-colored white and purple, as they were advertised to be, so some disappointment there.

Negative GreenLife On Apr 16, 2005, GreenLife from (Zone 10b) wrote:

I bought a lilac from the nursery in the winter and at the time, it was full of blooms. Within a week of transplanting it into my yard, all of the blooms withered and have been gone since.

Positive garyon On May 14, 2004, garyon from Syracuse, NY wrote:

This is included in the Highland Park Lilac collection in Rochester, NY. We have enjoyed it there for many years and just obtained a container grown plant from a nursery in Kennett Square Pennsylavania to bring back to our Syracuse NY garden. Enough locations mentioned for one entry?

We have no trouble growing S. vulgaris varieties here.


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

La Canada Flintridge, California
Greenville, Indiana
South China, Maine
Ijamsville, Maryland
Milton, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Blue Springs, Missouri
Brunswick, Missouri
Lincoln, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska (2 reports)
Litchfield, New Hampshire
Averill Park, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Brevard, North Carolina
Nebo, North Carolina
Findlay, Ohio
Nashport, Ohio
West Chester, Ohio
Portland, Oregon
Havertown, Pennsylvania
Plano, Texas
Sterling, Virginia
Edison, Washington

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