Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Japanese Tree Lilac
Syringa reticulata

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Syringa (si-RING-gah) (Info)
Species: reticulata (reh-tick-yoo-LAY-tuh) (Info)

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 17 photos.
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6 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive WUVIE On Jan 31, 2015, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Several years ago, we purchased two white tree lilacs that were incredibly root-bound, gangly, seven foot tall messes from a nursery that had apparently kicked them to the back of the nursery and ignored for some time. What led us to find them was the incredible fragrance and number of butterflies in the immediate area. After a fight to remove them from the confines of a nearby wisteria that was a living nightmare, they were rescued.

A fan of wild, and out-of-control plants, we bought them, brought them home and planted them after a bit of clean up. The following year, they bloomed like nobody's business, and every butterfly in the valley came to our trees. We later went back to the nursery to buy the rest of them, but they were gone.

They are stunning, easy to prune into shape and care for. I cannot wait to see how they perform year after year.

Positive tpettijohn On Jun 8, 2014, tpettijohn from Omaha, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

Planted my tree lilac about 12 years ago. It's been a wonderful tree. It took a few years before the blooms really took hold, and now the tree is loaded with blooms every June. It's located in my backyard which has a mostly southern exposure. It doesn't appear to matter what type of winter we've had here since it does well each year, though it's fairly close to the back of my home so it may get some shelter from the north winds in the winter. It does produce a healthy batch of suckers on a continual basis that have to be managed. The fragrance is a bit on the cloyingly sweet side (in my opinion), but that aside, this tree has been a success and I'm so happy with it.

Positive coriaceous On Mar 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a small flowering tree and not a shrub. Mature trees can reach 30'. They make good street trees.

Flowering is about a month after the common lilac. The fragrance is a lot like privet and (at least to my nose) not much like the common lilac.

This species is more resistant to scale, borer, and powdery mildew than most other lilacs.

Positive zachdave On Apr 4, 2013, zachdave from Fort Lee, NJ wrote:

I have had this tree for about 15 years, grown from a sapling. It has been beautiful for a most of those years, However, over the past year or so, it has grown "leggy" with gaps in the foliage and leaves primarily on the top branches. Does anyone know what the reason is and if I can restore it to a bushier, fuller appearance? I posted a photo of it as it is now, early April, before it has budded for the spring season. Thanks.

Positive ms_greenjeans On May 28, 2010, ms_greenjeans from Hopkins, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

These trees are all over the place now in Minnesota, but when I planted mine about 15 years ago I had never seen one before. It is in the front and center of my small yard, and it is my pride and joy. It flowers heavily every other year--this year is a real lollapalooza. This tree seems to be larger than 12-15 feet. It towers over my house, even though it is downhill. I'm guessing 25-30 feet?

Neutral Dedda On Sep 17, 2008, Dedda from Petersburg, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Obtained seeds a year ago, they took over 4 months to germinate, even after chill treatment. Do not know if it is worth planting out 2 in tall shrubs, that's all the growth obtained in 8 months.

Positive joegee On Jun 13, 2008, joegee from Bucyrus, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

These are widely planted throughout Ohio. Their attractive form, as well as their fragrant, airy white/cream color blossoms are now gracing many a curb and parking lot.

They seem to handle salt, vehicle exhaust, and intense sunlight well. I have yet to see them afflicted by pests or damaged by weather.

It's nice being able to step out of your vehicle and smell something pleasant instead of normal parking lot smells.

I have not seen s. reticulata set seed.


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

Iowa City, Iowa
Derby, Kansas
Louisville, Kentucky
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Hopkins, Minnesota
Lincoln, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
Wyckoff, New Jersey
Bellmore, New York
Mahopac, New York
Yorktown Heights, New York
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Salem, Oregon
Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
Riverton, Utah

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