I love the smell of lilacs in the air. Did you know that a lilac needs over 2,000 chill hours below 45°F during the winter, in order to flower? So, lilac’s are the ultimate cold-weather shrub and because of this love for chilly temperatures, I would never think to associate it with an olive tree. Yes, these deciduous, perennial plants are part of the olive family, Oleaceae. Who’d have thunk? Most lilacs thrive in  Zones 3-7, but some are hardy to Zone 2 . Other cultivars, bred specifically for warmer weather, grow well in Zones 8 and 9 – some even in parts of Zone 10.

There are 25 species of lilac and thousands of cultivars. Twelve species are in the genus Syringa; “syringa” comes from the ancient Greek word “syrinx,” which means pipe or tube. The branches of lilac shrubs are hollow yet strong. Many of these originated in France, thanks to the efforts of Victor Lemoine and his wife Marie in the 1870s and their son and grandson continued to breed lilacs, and between them the family  introduced over 200 cultivars between 1876 and 1953. Good Luck picking only one to add to your garden. French hybrids may be single flowered with four petals on each bloom, but some cultivars are double-flowered for an extra-full, lush look with as many as 12 petals on a single flower and they grow between four to 20 feet tall at maturity. Some have a compact, upright growth habit, while others tend to spread. In case you weren’t aware, Canada has Isabella Preston, she’s a notable plant breeder who has produced 82 different hybrid lilacs between 1912 and 1946. These are commonly referred to as Preston lilacs, or S . x prestoniae. Other common species include:

Then there are the following which are just a few since there are hundreds of cultivars :


These are only a few of the many you can choose from, I don’t think you could make a wrong choice though except maybe with the Himalayan lilac, I haven’t personally smelled one but if it doesn’t smell like a lilac… Isn’t that why we grow them? 

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