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(Species: Syringa vulgaris - Family: Oleaceae =
Lilac and its origins
Lilac is native to Persia, and reached Europe in the 16th century. Syringa is derived from the Greek word 'syrinx', which means a hollow pipe, and refers to the shoots in some species which were hollowed out in ancient times to make reed pipes and flutes.
Seasonality: Lilac in flower
A mature Lilac tree in spring and early summer is a magnificent sight and the fleeting flowers - the trees only bloom for two or three weeks - are compensated by their beauty and glorious perfume.
The panicle-shaped blooms comprise tightly-clustered small, tubular flowers, in shades that range from white through to purple, and include soft pink as well as the typical lavender shade.
All Lilacs are deciduous. Numerous hybrids and cultivars, including double-flowered Lilacs, are available, so that choices range from a tree that can reach 4.5metres when mature to a slow-growing, compact shrub such as Syringa meyeri Palabin that will stay below 1.5m and suits a small garden or a container.
How to plant: Lilac
Lilacs are hardy and will flower reliably every year if left unpruned. Although Lilacs will grow in a wide variety of soil types, they prefer a slightly alkaline soil that is fertile and free-draining. They also grow best in a sunny location, and benefit from feeding and mulching annually. Lilacs make excellent cut flowers.
Little pruning is needed and plants will produce more blooms if left unchecked, although weak and unproductive branches can be cut out straight after flowering.
Powdery mildew can be a problem when air circulation is poor, so pruning to keep the bush or tree open in habit is good practice. If practical, deadhead to remove faded flower panicles, especially in the first few years' of growth. Suckers form readily and should be removed from the Lilac.
Propagation of Lilac:
Increase Lilac by taking softwood cuttings in early summer.
Did you know
Festivals celebrating Lilac are held annually in America; Spokane, in Washington, is known as the Lilac City, and holds an annual parade as well as festival. A village in Illinois called Lombard has a garden with over 200 varieties of Lilac, called Lilacia Park. Lilac is the state flower of New Hampshire.
In England, Lilac is considered to be unlucky, and misfortune is said to befall the home that has a vase of cut Lilac. Moreover, an old English proverb declares that a person who carries a Lilac stem will never carry a wedding ring.