Common Lilac, French Lilac 'Sensation'

Syringa vulgaris

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
Registered or introduced: 1938



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Lake Oswego, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Havertown, Pennsylvania

Plano, Texas

Sterling, Virginia

Edison, Washington

Issaquah, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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.


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 ?


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.