Lilacs are a gorgeous plant in the garden, whether it’s the purple or the white flowering types they are just spectacular when they are in flower.
Lilacs fall between being a large shrub and a small tree, in that they are commonly seen in gardens around the 8’ mark, but if left alone they can reach heights in excess of 20’.
But with careful variety choice you can be aiming more for your plant to be slowly reaching the heights of 8’, as opposed to turning into a garden goliath!
I recommend you look out for the Double-white flowering Lilac – ‘Madame Lemoine’, this graceful shrub will take 10 years to get to 6’, and after 2 years planted it will be covered in gorgeous scented white flowers – which make for excellent cut flowers.
Although originally from the Balkans in South East Europe, most of our common double lilacs are referred to as French Lilacs, this has much to do with the work of the French flower breeder Victor Lemoine, and where my double white lilac gets its name.
by Gareth Austin
Lilacs flower on older growth, so these don’t respond well to pruning and as a result of being too well fed will produce lots of growth but little in the way of flowers.
Indeed a common question I would get is “Why won’t my Lilac flower?” my answer is usually along the lines of “Put some sand around the plant to impoverish it and you’ll be grand for next year”. Likewise, dead-heading old flowers can improve the following years’ production of flowers.
A fine spot in the garden for a Lilac is the windy corner, so when it grows up good and strong the perfume is blown into your garden during June & July.
Soil wise Lilacs are at home in our moist soils, but they dislike really peaty soils, but in regular ‘brown’ soil they do well.
In shallow sandy soils, you may find that the foliage can lose its green lushness and go a bit yellowy, this can be resolved with a good mulch of wood mulch, compost or other bulky organic matter.
French lilacs can be planted at any time of year, and at this time of year when they are in flower garden centres will be full of them.