May 29, 2019

Plant of the Month: Dwarf Korean Lilac

lilac blooms

No shrub can compete with the beauty, blooms, and fragrance of the Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri) when it's flowering. I've posted about this one many times, and I probably will again, but it deserves to be plant of the month and I've never done that until now.

We have two of these shrubs, both of which were here when we moved to this property nearly 20 years ago. Every year, the explosion of lavender/pink flowers is one of my favorite garden events of the season, generally peaking just after the Common Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris).

lilac and bumble

No, this is not a native shrub, but it definitely has pollinator value. The bumblebees were all over it when I was taking these photos. Later, I saw a monarch butterfly on it (I was in the garden working and didn't capture the photo). I've also seen tiger swallowtails and other butterflies, honeybees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators enjoying its sweet nectar.

lilac blooms 2

This year's damp, cool spring has been good to these shrubs, and they seemed to handle the extremely cold winter better than the Common Lilacs.

Dwarf Korean Lilac is hardy in USDA garden zones 3 to 7, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It naturally reaches a height of 5 to 7 feet, and a spread of 6 to 10 feet, but we keep ours trimmed to a much smaller width--pruning it each spring after it blooms. Although it's listed as needing full sun, both of ours thrive in partial sun.

Most winters, rabbits chew the lower branches; with snow cover, the damage is less significant. In years with heavy rabbit grazing, I simply prune the entire shrub more dramatically, and it always bounces back the next spring.

lilac and house

I like the statement it makes at the corner of the house. From this angle, you can't see it, but the shrub borders the driveway and a sidewalk. When you walk by, the scent is so very sweet!

lilac buds

My heart is happy when the Dwarf Korean Lilacs bloom.

30 comments:

  1. It is difficult to stay out of the garden now isn't it, especially when the lilacs are blooming. I have always wanted one of these shrubs but thought I didn't have enough sun for it. I have experienced this amazing fragrance and I would like to every spring. I didn't realize they got so large. My neighbor has a smaller version of this shrub. I think it is called Miss Kim. I can smell it from my garden.

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    1. Yes, it's tough not to spend every possible moment with good weather outside. The dog wants to be outside, too, which is nice and challenging. ;-) Yes, 'Miss Kim' is a smaller version. Unchecked, this one can be quite large, but it trims down nicely, and the rabbits help me keep it in check. The scent is incredible.

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  2. That gorgeous fragrance would certainly lure one into your garden!

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    1. It is an amazing scent, and the entire area smells fabulous when it blooms. The two shrubs are still holding their blooms, since we haven't had much hot weather or heavy storms. Next few days, however, they'll be waning. :(

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  3. Oh my, it is beautiful. The lilacs are blooming here. Last night it was just one sweet sweet smell. It was magical with the sunset, lilacs showing off their sweet fragrance and we have a pair of oriels nesting. Their song is so fun.

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    1. Lucky you to have orioles nesting nearby! They seem to travel through here to other nesting grounds, but I'm always glad to see them each year. Yes, the Lilac bloom time is so special.

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  4. It's a spectacular shrub, Beth, and worth a month of celebration,

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    1. Yes, it's really special, Kris. I'm glad the former owners planted two of these shrubs. :)

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  5. Beautiful photos, Beth ... and I think pink and green is a great color combo!

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    1. Thank you, Hollis. I agree: Pink, lavender, and blue pastels combine well with green.

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  6. I can see why you're so happy with this plant--it's a gorgeous one!

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    1. It's a special time of year when these shrubs bloom, Tina. I only wish the blooms would last longer.

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  7. I can understand why you would want to feature this stunning plant again, Beth. I wish I had room for one. P x

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    1. Maybe someday, Pam. I'm trying to go more native with new plants, but I think I would always want to make room for this particular Lilac shrub. It's not invasive, and it offers so much sensory pleasure for humans...and nectar and pollen for pollinators...and cover for little birds.

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  8. Love the color and fragrance. Mine is grafted on a standard: perfect height for sticking my face right into the flowers.

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    1. Yes, I stick my face in these guys every time I walk by. Believe it or not, they're still blooming a week later!

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  9. Your Dwarf Korean Lilac looks like it is very happy. I tried planting one but i think it was in too much shade - it never really thrived.

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    1. Oh, sorry to hear that, Jason. As I mentioned, these two shrubs were here when we moved in two decades ago, and they're still going strong.

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  10. I love lilacs but am trying to stay away from those that sucker all over the place so this one is on my short list of shrubs to include in the garden. It's always nice to hear (and see!) how plants do in "real" gardens vs. catalogue descriptions, which so often leave out important details (such as invasiveness!).

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    1. The previous owners made a good decision to include these two shrubs. They really make a statement in the spring, and they aren't invasive. And they attract so many pollinators!

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  11. Your lilacs are beautiful and so happy. It's so nice when previous owners leave special plants.

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    1. Yes, it is. I'm so grateful. They actually planted quite a few awesome plants--some of which are still thriving in the garden.

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  12. I just bought two lilac bushes and cannot wait for them grow and mature to fill my bedroom windows with their scent. Yours look so good, they make me wish they grew faster!

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    1. Very nice! I'm sure they'll meet your expectations. You'll have many years of sweet scents.

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  13. I have two Miss Kim korean lilacs. Are these the same as yours. I do find it amusing that mine grow so large. They don't seem very dwarf. Here, they are great pollinator plants too.~~Dee

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    1. Hi Dee: Mine are not 'Miss Kim' although they are similar. I think these, unchecked could grow even larger than 'Miss Kim,' although I'm not sure. Both are beautiful, and isn't the scent incredible?

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  14. How beautiful! I have a couple little lilacs that were petering out where I first planted them (too hot a spot, I think). I have them against the woods now and they are doing better. There's nothing like that smell!

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    1. Oh, I totally agree! Lilacs are a wonderful highlight of the spring, for sure!

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