The Fragrant Chinese Lilac

'Lilac Sunday' Chinese Lilac - source: Fine Gardening 
 The Chinese Lilac (Syringa chinensis) is neither Chinese nor a true lilac. It was the first known hybrid lilac and was discovered as a seedling growing in Rouen, France in 1777.
Chinese Lilac is considered an "old-fashioned" shrub. It is known for its marvelously fragrant, showy purple, violet, or white flowers which appear in mid-May and last for one to two weeks.  It is a hardy, very wide spreading shrub, growing eventually to 12' by 12' wide. 

White Chinese Lilac - source: David J Frank
Chinese Lilac is the star of the show in spring when its intoxicating scent perfumes the air.
The multitrunked silhouette of the Chinese Lilac differs from the more upright and narrow Common Lilac and many people prefer the Chinese Lilac for this reason. 
It makes a perfect small tree for a small to mid-size yard.  It grows in USDA zones 5 - 8.
Chinese Lilac likes full sun and needs good air circulation around it to prevent powdery mildew from forming on its leaves. In this regard, it is a good idea to plant it as a small bushy tree out in the open lawn rather than in the shrub border or with a grouping of other plants.  
It is a good plant for urban areas because it is highly adaptable to poor soils, drought and pollution. 
Except for powdery mildew in late summer, the Chinese Lilac is a vigorous shrub. However, prune only after flowering, as it sets the next season's flower buds during the summer. 
A cultivar is 'Lilac Sunday' and the Saugeana, a lilac with vivid rose-red flowers. Hardy to -40 degrees!
Saugeana Chinese Lilac  source:


  1. Absolutely undergoes...wish they grew in Houston!

    1. I must write about southern plants! Just to make you not feel bad....


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