Little Space? Try A Dwarf Lilac
Lilacs hold a special spot in the hearts of many people, and for those who have only a small space for a bush or tree, a dwarf lilac is a good choice. Color is important, but most of us want a plant that, when in bloom, gives us the true lilac scent. You can place a single lilac in the flower garden, or plant several as an attractive low hedge.
The dwarf lilac is superior in many respects a hedge as; pruning a standard lilac to get the desired shape along with low height can be at times difficult. There is a large number of lilac varieties available with colors ranging from white, to lavender, blue to pink, and perhaps a nostalgic favorite of many, deep purple. Bloom time normally lasts a little more than two weeks, but you can purchase both early and mid-season blooming varieties, and enjoy a month to perhaps 6 weeks of beautiful blooms, and that heavenly lilac smell. As far as the dwarf lilac is concerned, either the Syringa Vulgaris cultivar or the Syringa Hyancinthafolia variety will give you a true old-fashioned lilac smell. Some other varieties, while having a nice smell, might not give you quite the scent you are looking forward too.
You Can't Kill Them - Lilacs, including the dwarf lilac, are easy to care for. In fact sometimes they can be rather difficult to kill if one has grown to maturity and you no longer want a lilac in that particular location. Unless you dig up every last root, you'll be getting little lilac sprouts in that location for years. Assuming your lilac plant is just where you want it, as long as it's in a sunny location you can look forward to abundant blooms for many years. The lilac has a long life. There is a house on a hill that I drive by on occasion. It's the house where I spent mu childhood. The house was built by my great grandfather around the year 1900. Several years later my great grandmother planted a number of lilac bushes as a hedge. By the time I was born they had reached a height of 15 feet. The house, a Victorian style, has undergone several changes of ownership over the years, and no longer is in the family. Now almost 100 years later, the lilac bushes are still there. They are still healthy, and the blooms still smell like lilacs should.
Planting – Throw In Some Rotten Leaves - If you purchase lilac plants from a nursery, place them in a hole somewhat larger than the root ball. The usual recommendation is to place a mixture of compost and peat moss around the root ball. That's an excellent idea, but an even better one, suggested by a long-time lilac grower, is to place some partially decayed leaves in the bottom of the hole, a nice cushion of them,. Then fill in the hole with the compost and peat moss. Water, and watch your full size or dwarf lilac grow! Like most plants, shrubs, and trees, the lilac prefers well drained soil. Keep the plant moist but not soaked. As it matures it will become quite drought tolerant. As mentioned, the lilac does best in full sun, or where it can get at least 6 hours of sun a day. The plant does not always do well if placed too near an evergreen tree, like a fir or larch.
Prune Regularly - Lilacs grow best in locations experiencing cool to cold winters. The plant handles extremes of weather well, but does need a cool climate during its dormant season. Lilac plants, even the dwarf lilac, should be pruned annually. While the shape of a dwarf lilac is fairly easy to maintain, you'll still need to cut back suckers and cross branches annually. It's also a good idea to keep the center of the plant relatively open. An overly dense plant, even for a dwarf variety, can foster disease, particularly if the foliage becomes moist and warm for any length of time. When you do trim your dwarf lilac, keep the top rounded. If you have a hedge of dwarf lilacs, there is a temptation to flatten the tops. The lilac is not a boxwood shrub, and does not look attractive with a flat top. Some of the more popular dwarf varieties, most reaching a height of 4 to 8 feet, are the Persian lilac (Syringa x persica), the White Persian (Syringa x persica alba), noted for it's very wide horizontal spread, and the Dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri palabin), a very compact plant, and one of the better known varieties of the dwarf lilac.
Your garden should have at least one lilac, dwarf or otherwise. Bet you can't get along with just one!