25 Lilac Varieties: Various Lilac Cultivar Types

10 Min Read

Trying to choose which variety of lilac to plant this season but need a little assistance? It can be challenging to choose the ideal shrub because lilacs come in over 25 species and thousands of cultivars. So for all you lilac lovers out there, in this article, I’ll introduce you to my 2 favourite varieties.

1. Syringa x ‘Penda’

Syringa x ‘Penda’.jpgSize: 3-4 feet round

Flower colour: Purple to pink

These hybrids, which are sold under multiple brand names as “reblooming” lilacs, are available in a variety of purple and pink hues. They have a small, spherical form that is 3–4 feet in diameter, and they bloom for 3–4 weeks in late spring or early summer.

The foliage is neat but unimpressive, which makes it a fine choice for a foundation planting or mixed border. After the blooms have faded, give them a quick shear, and you should get another flush of flowers by midsummer.

2. Syringa x ‘Bailbelle’

Syringa x ‘Bailbelle’.jpgSize: 5-6 feet

Flower colour: Wine

Known by many as the “Tinkerbelle” lilac, this dwarf variety grows to a height of 5 feet and a width of 6 feet when fully grown. Tinkerbelle is a plant that will give colour wherever it is planted. It has early red buds that open into 5-inch-long, wine-coloured panicles in mid- to late spring.

Even when flowering is finished, the huge, dark, oval leaves give it a pleasing appearance. Ideal for mass planting, an informal hedge, or a border with mixed lilacs.

3. James Macfarlane

James Macfarlane.jpgSize: 6-8 feet

Flower Colour: Pink

A Preston lilac cultivator, “James Macfarlane” (S. x prestoniae), yields dark-pink buds that bloom into light-pink flowers.

With a maximum height of eight feet and a maximum spread of ten feet, he is an ideal option for a privacy hedge. He thrives in Zones 2–7 and is also exceptionally hardy. In May and June, the fragrant “James Macfarlane” blooms.

4. Miss Canada

Miss Canada.jpgSize: 6-9 feet

Flower Colour: Hot Pink

Try ‘Miss Canada’ (S. x prestoniae), a pink-flowered Preston cultivar that also produces lovely foliage in the autumn.

This medium-sized shrub reaches heights of six to nine feet and widths of five to eight feet when fully grown. For two to three weeks in the early summer, the flower clusters on this plant bloom.

This lively pink shrub grows well in Zones 3–7 and has a wonderful scent from its blossoms. The leaves turn a deep yellow in the autumn. At Nature Hills Nursery, bare root plants are offered.

5. Royalty

Royalty.jpgSize: 8-10 feet

Flower Colour: Dark Purple

Do you desire a cultivar that blooms later in the spring and early summer than other types and has a light lavender colour and strong aroma?

Preston lilacs have lighter-coloured blooms, but their dark buds give the panicles a layered appearance. ‘Royalty’ grows to a height of 10 feet and a spread of up to eight feet. It is hardy in Zones 3–8 and requires a few less cool hours than other types.

6. Scent and Sensibility Pink

Scent and Sensibility Pink.jpgSize: 2-3 ft. tall

Flower Colour: Dark Green

“Scent and Sensibility Pink” (S. x “SMSXPM”) is fortunately located directly outside my kitchen window. It blossoms in light-pink bunches of fragrant splendour every spring.

Midsummer is when the blooms stop appearing, but in August, just when you start to truly miss them, another wave of blooms appears.

The tiny variety “Scent and Sensibility Pink” only reaches a height of three feet, but it can spread up to six feet, creating a lovely, sprawling appearance to your garden or borders. Zones 3–7 are ideal for growing this cultivar.

7. Tiny Dancer

Tiny Dancer.jpgSize: 4-5 feet tall

Flower Colour: Lavender-pink

Tiny Dancer’ (S. vulgaris), also known as ‘Elsdancer’, is a fragrant border that doesn’t need to be constantly trimmed to prevent it from taking over your yard.

With four to five-inch bunches of fragrant lavender-coloured blooms; this dwarf cultivar reaches a maximum height of five feet and a width of three to four feet. Zones 4–8 are ideal for “Tiny Dancer,” albeit it isn’t as hardy as some other varieties. This cultivar is perfect for those of you who live in rainy locations because it resists powdery mildew.

8. Yankee Doodle

Yankee Doodle.jpgSize: 8 ft. tall

Flower Colour: Purple

Plant a ‘Yankee Doodle’ (S. vulgaris) in your garden for a traditional American lilac. A passionate Ohio lilac breeder, Father John L. Fiala cultivated this deep-purple beauty in 1985, and it was one of his favourite plants.

“Yankee Doodle” spreads out to six feet and reaches up to ten feet in height. Zones 2–8 are ideal for growing the highly scented “Yankee Doodle,” which blooms for up to four weeks in late April.

9. Sensation

Sensation.jpgSize: 8-10 feet

Flower Colour: Purple flowers with white borders

Consider trying ‘Sensation’ if you love both purple and white lilacs. With its exquisite, layered appearance, this distinctive cultivar features purple flowers rimmed in white.

You are also bestowed with its splendour for an entire month, throughout the middle of spring. Grows to a height of 10 feet and a spread of 12 feet, ‘Sensation’ has a mild fragrance and is hardy in Zones 3–7.

10. Saugeana

Saugeana.jpgSize: 3m

Flower Colour: Purple red

The hybrid cross between S. vulgaris and S. persica, known as “Saugeana” or “Persian” lilac, is sometimes occasionally referred to as S. x chinensis.

Saugeana blooms with a fragrant smell starting in mid-May and is pale purple in colour. The shrub reaches a maximum height of eight feet and a maximum width of ten feet. This type is hardy in Zones 3–7 and adapts well to nearly any soil.

11. Rosie

Rosie.jpgSize: 3 meters tall

Flower Colour: Pink

“Rosie” (S. vulgaris), as her name implies, is as cheerful as she seems, and her ability to withstand heat is as impressive.

She’s one of the “low chill” lilac cultivars in John Schoustra’s Beach PartyTM range, created by the California plant breeder.

Which is good news for those of you in warmer growing zones because she thrives in Zones 4–10, requiring less chilling hours than a lilac typically requires? “Rosie” has a lovely scent and can reach a height of 12 feet, with a spread of 6 to 8 feet.

12. Ludwig Spaeth

Ludwig Spaeth.jpgSize: 12 feet tall

Flower Colour: Purple

“Ludwig Spaeth” (S. x vulgaris) has a rich purple-red colour that is enough to make even the strongest of hearts quake.

This French hybrid also has very fragrant flowers. Its slightly later spring or early summer blooming period compared to other types makes it simple for you to prolong the lilac show in your garden. “Ludwig Spaeth” grows best in Zones 3–7 and reaches up to 10 feet tall and eight feet wide. It makes a fantastic privacy hedge.

13. Ivory Silk

Ivory Silk.jpgSize: 12 feet tall

Flower Colour: Creamy white

A Japanese tree lilac (S. reticulata) cultivar known as “Ivory Silk” yields enormous, cream-coloured panicles and has a traditional lilac aroma.

If you wish to cultivate this one, you’ll need a large garden because it reaches a maximum height of 15 to 25 feet and a spread of 10 to 15 feet. Even after the leaves fall in the fall, the dark crimson bark in your yard still creates a striking impression.

“Ivory Silk” blooms in June, is hardy in Zones 3–7, and offers the ideal shade for a picnic filled with lovely scents.

14. Charles Joly

Charles Joly.jpgSize: 10 feet

Flower Colour: Reddish-purple

Does your life currently need more magenta? Then allow S. vulgaris, dubbed “Charles Joly,” to accomplish it. This fragrant shrub does well in Zones 3–7 and can reach heights of 12 feet with a spread of 10 feet. However, its most prized feature is its eye-catching double flowers. The three to four weeks that blooming lasts start in the middle to late spring.

15. Beauty of Moscow

Beauty of Moscow.jpgSize: 15 feet tall

Flower Colour: Pink and White

Plant ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (S. vulgaris), also known as ‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’, in your garden or garden for a delightful surprise.

This shrub produces soft pink buds that open into double-flowered white flowers. In addition to being exquisitely lovely, the blossoms are very fragrant.

Slice off one or two clusters from the plant, place them in a vase, and fill your home with the delightful scent of spring. The “beautiful flowers of Moscow” in May. It grows to a mature height of 10–12 feet with a spread of up to eight feet. It is hardy in Zones 3–7.

16. Agincourt Beauty

Agincourt Beauty.jpgSize: 8-15 tall

Flower Colour: Deep purple

Do you desire large floret blossoms that you can cut and arrange in a vase to bring the lovely scent of spring into your house? If so, ‘Agincourt Beauty’ (S. vulgaris), a late April to early May blooming lilac, is the one for you.

‘Agincourt Beauty’ is a vivid violet stunner with the largest individual florets of all lilac species and cultivars. This cultivar may grow to a stunning height of 10 to 12 feet with a spread of eight to 10 feet, and it thrives in Zones 3–7. I must acquire an “Agincourt Beauty” plant for my backyard.

17. Dwarf Korean

Dwarf Korean.jpgSize: 4-5 tall

Flower Colour: Deep purple

A popular six-foot shrub with an eight-foot spread, dwarf Korean (S. meyeri ‘Palibin’) is something I frequently see in nurseries up here in Alaska.

Its rounded, bushy growth habit and mature height and width of four to five feet make it perfect for smaller gardens or container planting.

The springtime blooms of purple flowers are fragrant and abundant. They give you one last, delicate bloom to cap off the summer before they bloom once more the next spring.

18. Japanese Tree Lilac

Japanese Tree Lilac.jpgSize: 6-12 inch

Flower Colour: white

The Japanese tree lilac, or S. reticulata, is a multibranched tree that gracefully drapes over your grassy yard and produces small cream-coloured blooms and rich green foliage.

The little flowers that blossom in the early summer have a strong aroma. S. reticulata thrives in Zones 3–7 and reaches a spectacular height of 20–25 feet with a spread of 15–25 feet.

19. Miss Kim

Miss Kim.jpgSize: 6-12 inch

Flower Colour: Dark purple-pink

The cultivar “Miss Kim” belongs to S. pubescens var. Although she grows best in Zones 4–9, it’s perfect for people in somewhat warmer growing zones. Large, fragrant, light-purple blooms are produced by this neat shrub, which grows to a height and breadth of four to five feet.

Ever the prolific bloomer, ‘Miss Kim’ puts on a show in the spring, but her dark-green foliage holds its appeal all summer long, turning gorgeous claret in the autumn.

20. Scentara Double Blue

Scentara Double Blue.jpgSize: 6-8 foot tall

Flower Colour: Cool purple

Plant ‘Scentara Double Blue’ (Scentara x hyacinth flora) for an enticing double-flowered blossom with the most sublime blue-violet colour you’ve ever seen.

This variety offers a lovely, traditional lilac aroma to your garden when it blooms in the middle of April. Tight in Zones 2–8, the shrub reaches heights of six to eight feet with a comparable spread.

21. Sunday

Sunday Lilac.jpgSize: 8-12 ft. tall

Flower Colour: Light-purple

Plant Sunday (S. x chinensis) to add beautiful purple clusters of sweet-scented flowers to your garden. When Sunday blooms profusely, the branches overarch.

“Sunday” grows best in Zones 3–7 and flowers in early to mid-spring. It spreads about eight feet and can reach a height of ten feet.

22. Wedgewood Blue

Wedgewood Blue.jpgSize: 4-6 feet tall

Flower colour: blue

Wedgewood Blue is an upright shrub that reaches heights of 4-6 feet with widths of heart-shaped, light green foliage.

Late spring brings a subtle perfume as lilac-hued buds open to light blue panicles on arching branches. This variety looks well as an accent plant in a smaller space or at the back of a perennial garden.

23. Elliot

Elliot Flower.jpgSize: 20 feet high

Flower colour: White

Its steel-grey, smooth bark makes for a dramatic winter profile. The habit is erect and thick. Chinese tree lilacs are another early summer bloomer that produces large clusters of yellow-white, fragrant flowers.

This species is smaller, growing to a height of 10–20 feet and a width of 10-15 feet. It has a more delicate leaf and branch structure, and it is frequently chosen for its unique bark features and winter appeal. Later in the season, its bark, which ranges in colour from cinnamon to amber, comes off in sheets.

24. Josee

Josee Flower.jpgSize: 4-6 feet tall

Flower colour: lavender-pink

Josee is a dwarf favourite because of its star-shaped, light pink blossoms that totally cover it in late April. This shrub will reflower later in the season in cooler regions, though less profusely.

Josee has small, dark green leaves with a thick, spherical shape, growing to widths of 4-6 feet and heights of 5-6 feet. Use it as a foundation planting or in a border of mixed shrubs.

25. President Lincoln

President Lincoln.jpgSize: 10 feet tall

Flower colour: blue

This one is valued for its distinctive colour and formal stature, with large, wedgewood blue panicles that grow in clusters against dark green leaves. Lincoln’s branch structure is upright and stiff, and at 10 feet tall and 6 feet broad, it’s a favourite backdrop plant.

The name of this cultivar came from its extensive use in presidential gardens after it was introduced in 1916. It blooms in early summer and grows quickly. It also has a lovely aroma.



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