A long time favourite in gardens across the country, Lilac tree with their fragrant flowers are easy care. These are a small tree or bush, when in flower they have a wonderful strong scent that carries in warmer climates to fill the garden with a wonderful perfume.
Depending on variety, the flowering time will be from mid spring to summer when white or pink to purple flowers, appear in masses. You can grow them as a bush or shrub, they can also be grown as a standard if desired. The botanical name is Syringa and it does include a number of garden worthy varieties.
The flowers are typically a pale blue and this is where they get the name Lilac, however there are also varieties, with deeper purple to mauve and red flowers.
They flower in spring, and this is when they are at their best, and as they don’t actually do much for the rest of the year. They are suited to growing in the general garden border, and can be used as a seasonal feature plant.
Dwarf cultivars that are suited to growing in containers, are also available for sale from selected nurseries.
Lilacs prefer a humus rich moist, but well drained soil. They do well in full sun and once established are relatively maintenance free. A position in full sun is best, this will improve flowering as well as intensify the fragrance.
Good drainage is essential, these are a plant that will suffer in wet boggy soils.
Although they do like a good soil, over fertilising can result in good foliage growth yet poor flowering. Good mulch and a little well rotted cow manure each year is usually adeqaute.
Mulch around the plants, well and water deeply during very dry spells.
Removing the older stems, not only rejuvenates the bush, it also helps prevent insect pests and diseases.
Lilacs flower on 2 year old wood, so prune these wonderful spring blooming plants accordingly.
Older plants can become a little large and woody over time. For best flowering performance they may need some sever pruning. If they have been neglected, try removing all dead and damaged wood to start with and then remove 1/3 of the remaining stems, start with the oldest. Over 3-4 years you will have a healthy rejuvenated plant.
Pruning of lilac bushes can be carried out after flowering, light pruning maintains shape. The French variety is Syringa vulgaris and they can handle heavy pruning. Each year prune away 1/3 of the oldest stems, generally in June in Australia. Leave around 8 – 12 main canes. Prune back to around 30cm less than the desired height each year just after flowering for a second flush of flowers.
The tree lilac are pruned back to one main stem. Generally speaking, all varieties are best pruned back to around to a height that will give flowers at head height, this maximises both the visibility and the perfume.
Lilac varieties include: Syringa vulgaris, S. x hyacinthiflora, S. x prestoniae, S. reticulata, S. pekinensis, S. x chinensis, S. pinnatifolia, S. x ‘Albida’, French, Russian, and fragrant lilac.
Lilac Plants are available for sale from the following nurseries
P O Box 398 Creswick Vic 3363
Retail & Mail Order Specialist Growers of Heritage Roses, Unusual Perennials, Tree & Herbaceous Peonies. Mail order and Nursery Sales.
357 Monbulk Road SILVAN VIC 3795
Guaranteed "garden worthy" bulbs, plants and perennials. Visit the website to browse our large range of daffodils or request the latest free catalogue.