Pros: Beautiful blooms, strong sweet smelling fragrance, makes awesome indoor cut arrangements
Cons: Bloom time is only 2-3 weeks
There is nothing more strongly fragrant that I have found as you walk by it, than a lilac bush in full bloom and we are fortunate to live in the city on the West Coast known as the Lilac City, where the annual West Coast Lilac Festival takes place in May. Most homeowners play a role in making this a successful event by planting at least one or two lilacs in their landscaping as people come from miles around for this festival and you can always count on the lilacs to be in full bloom by the 3rd Saturday in May. Ever since we moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1992, we have had different varieties of lilacs in our landscaping, however the main one of all of them and the most common is the purple lilac.
In March of 1919, the state of New Hampshire adopted the purple lilac as their state flower since the purple lilac proved to be a hardy bush which according to historian, Leon Anderson symbolized the men and women of the granite state, New Hampshire. Rochester, New York is known as the Lilac capitol of the world with a 155 acre park that contains over 1200 lilac bushes. In August of 2006, New York State claimed the lilac as their state bush.
Purple lilacs are hardy, showy, purple flowering shrubs that add grace, beauty, and fragrance to any landscaping and have been loved for many generations as the long time favorite.
What It Is
The -purple lilac shrub is a deciduous, low maintenance, dense, flowering shrub whose beautiful sweetly strong fragrant purple flowers only lasts for a few weeks during the month of May in the Pacific Northwest. Single flowers are arranged in dense, terminal clusters to 5" long, which cover this shrub in a profuse bloom with leaves that are heart-shaped.
It is considered to have a moderate growth rate and grows to a height of 8-15 feet with a mature spread of 6-12'. The purple lilac likes full sun and well-drained soil. They thrive in practically all soils from clay to sand preferring a slightly alkaline soil. They are very cold hardy handling temperatures to -35F and in fact need the cold climate to produce fragrant blossoms in the spring.
This shrub is for zones 2-6. In the fall, the leaves turn to a yellow color. It is also considered a mildew resistance shrub as long as air can circulate within the shrub.
We have had 18 years experience with the beautiful purple lilac. This wonderful lilac has never let us down surviving every winter that Mother Nature dishes out including ice storms, heavy snow, and degrees in the negative range. We know that spring has finally arrived when we see our lilacs start to bloom.
The bloom time is short but during the bloom time, you can walk past this lilac bush and the fragrance jumps out at you. This is highly unusual for a plant to smell so sweet and fragrant and you don't have to put your nose into the flower to smell it. The smell is much more powerful than roses.
Once the lilacs are blooming, the weather plays a key role on how long you will get to enjoy them. They like cool dry weather so the longer that the weather cooperates, the longer they will last between 2-3 weeks and then you need to wait another 49-50 weeks before seeing them again. We are generally very fortunate in the Pacific Northwest to have mild temps in May to stretch out our blooming time to close to 3 weeks
We have found maintenance is low and for best results for the next season's blooms is to take clippers and remove the dead flowers. If any pruning is needed to keep its full looking shape and not too bushy we will clip some of the branches to create good air circulation. We also look for any sucklings (shoots at the base) and clip those as well. However, the shrub will thrive just fine if one does not want to prune at all but do not expect a full display of blooms.
Lilac roots grow deep and the lilacs do not like standing water so it is best to plant them with a slight elevation or on level ground where water does not stand and ensure the hole is large enough to place the new plant. They offer good shade in the summer and are a favorite for the pets to sit out by.
The purple lilacs like to be fertilized in the spring with a general-purpose fertilizer or one high with phosphorous to promote blooming. Do not use too much nitrogen in the soil since that will result in poor blooms.
The purple lilac is a showy lilac bush and I will take some cuttings of the blooms and make an indoor flower arrangement and the fragrance is just awesome throughout the home.
Butterflies love the lilac bushes as well as the bees but the show is even more beautiful when you see the Monarch butterflies all over the lilacs. This is a great shrub to place near your butterfly garden.
Even though the bloom time is short, the three weeks we get to enjoy this marvelous wonder is one that is just awesome between the smell and the butterflies and the gorgeous indoor flower arrangements.
I highly recommend the purple lilac for your landscaping. They do make a great privacy barrier if you have neighbors you want to block from view as well.