Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

Fruits & Nuts



Special Topics



Cornell University

Syringa vulgaris
(ser-in-jah vul-gare-iss)

Click on thumbnails for larger image.

What about it?

The lilac is a deciduous shrub originating from Southeastern Europe. Its dense clusters of deliciously fragrant pink, purple, or white flowers make it understandable why the colonists brought this plant over from the Old World. It grows to about 20 feet in height and flowers in May.

Its fragrance and appearance is beautiful, and comes at a time of the year when New York residents appreciate beauty in the landscape. It's often used as a barrier or a border but this plant needs no excuses and is utilized as an ornamental specimen.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Lilacs enjoy full sun and moist, fertile, well-drained soil. They will thrive anywhere in the United States. Give them 15 feet of growing space when planting.

What are its primary problems?

Lilacs are beautiful but vulnerable to quite a few pests. In fact, the lilac borer made itself a name destroying lilac trees. Powdery mildew and Oystershell Scale are others to be wary of. Lilacs are very susceptible to air pollution damage and can be an indicator of the air quality of the surrounding area.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.