Lilacs in the south

nckvilledudes(7a NC)April 27, 2008

I know that someone posted previously about lilacs not growing well and in the south so wanted to show at least three different varieties that do and are fragrant that are growing in my neighborhood.

First off is Miss Kim which is doing just fine in my garden in an area where it gets full afternoon sun. The leaves can get burnt somewhat by late summer/early fall, but my plant is loaded with blooms, some open and some not, and the fragrance fills the backyard.

Two more, one small and one larger, in two separate yards in the neighborhood which were both purchased at a local Lowes store and the people have no clue what the plants were named. These remind me of the ones growing at my grandmother's house well for over 75 years and they are fragrant. The blooms on them are waning at this point.

The last is a monster plant that I smelled walking up the sidewalk to get a picture. It is well over 7 feet tall as evidenced by the fence height, and is in full bloom. The owners of this house were not the original owners of the house so have no information on the type of lilac it is.

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ashef(coastal NC z8)

nckvilledudes, where do you live?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 4:43PM
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ashef(coastal NC z8)

Those lilacs are GORGEOUS!!!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 4:46PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

Wow, that last pic is gorgeous, Now that's the kind of lilacs I grew up with! A neighbor had a whole hedge row of lilacs down the back of their porperty and when they bloomed it was incredible! They let us pick all we wanted and I'd come back with arm loads, lol... the house smelled so good.

How old is your Miss Kim? Can't wait for mine to get that big!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 5:50PM
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S. vulgaris is the old-fashioned lilac that often doesn't perform well in the South. At any rate they don't grow to the size of a small house like they do up North. My grandfather in Indiana had a huge old-fashioned lilac. In addition to gardening in a colder climate, he gardened on limestone. Miss Kim is a separate species (S. patula), and there are several vulgaris hybrids developed for California that are heat tolerant, such as Lavender Lady. Syringa meyeri, S. microphylla, S. laciniata, and S. oblata do well in the South too.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 12:52AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Ashef, I live in Kernersville which is midway between Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Rootdigger, the plant has been in the ground for about 5 years.

I wish the people growing the last variety of lilac pictured which is higher than the fence knew the variety because I would plant one in a heart beat. Like I said in the previous post about Miss Kim, the trick to growing clematis in NC is growing types that are suited for our climate. Trying to grow a variety that grows well further north is going to cause you to have an underperforming lilac in our heat and humidity.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:35AM
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My guess is that the giant pink lilac is the Descanso hybrid (Syringa x hyacinthiflora) called California Rose.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 2:38AM
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nckvilledudes, have you considered trying to grow those lilacs from cuttings? I rooted a lilac from Witherspoon once and lost it after transplanting it up to the house in its new location (still crying over that one, the only plant loss I think I've truly ever mourned). However, it was well rooted. The lilac from Witherspoon wasn't S. vulgaris and it wasn't Miss Kim. I think perhaps it was S. oblata. It was beautiful when I saw it blooming at Witherspoon. Breathtaking, in fact. I hope it's still there. It had been there for decades.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 10:29AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Alicia, nope hadn't really ever considered trying to grow lilacs from cuttings. I might be persuaded if you could offer some tips and the homeowners would be willing to allow me to take cuttings. Their house is on the market for sale right now. Not sure how long a cutting would take to get to a good size. Right now my big experiment with patience is hybridizing and growing clematis from seed, some of which can take a year or more to germinate.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:36AM
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The people at Witherspoon gave me a couple of pencil-length tips of newly firmed wood with no flowers. I used liquid rooting hormone after lightly wounding one side of the stem, put the stems in potting mix, and then left them in complete shade and the open air (no plastic covering, rained on) for the summer. It took about 3 months for the stems to root and put out new growth, but the next year the lilac started to size up quickly.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 6:37PM
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I have two s. vulgaris in pots right now--Josee and Sensation. I got them as part of a "bulk" shrub package from mail far, they're doing well. But the summer heat will tell the tale.

My Miss Kim is blooming its heart out and smells heavenly!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 9:27PM
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My lilac bloomed for the first time since planting it 3 years ago.Beautiful deep lavender body with white edging. Last fall the trunk/stems were covered with white fuzzy "things". I sprayed it with dormant oil but don't know what it was. Any ideas? Also, my barlett pear tree has leaves dying on the top and some on the lower branches. I sprayed malithion on it to kill the bag worms maybe that is the reason. Ideas?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 12:38AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Thanks Alicia. May have to try that.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 1:30AM
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I have a white vulgaris that TriangleJohn brought back from Oklahoma. Right now it looks beautiful (no flowers yet). I imagine the summer heat make take a toll but I wanted to try it anyway.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 10:10AM
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Dukenurse - the white fuzzy things sound like Mealy Bugs to me. I usually just squish them and then hose off the stems but I find them on shorter plants than trees. They tend to over populate early in the year and then all the predators get them under control by summer - but if you spray you kill both the bad guys and the good guys so you might not see much improvement. Spraying rarely kills all of them because it is hard to completley cover the entire plant with spray. Most lilacs I have grown suffered from Scale Insect moreso than Mealy Bugs. Sounds like your Pear is just suffering with the drought and last summers high heat.

I dug up and brought back to NC a bunch of the white flowering lilacs from my parents yard because I had read that about 20 years ago a Syringa vulgaris was developed that did better in the deep south than most. It only came in solid white and it seems to have disappeared over time. That correlates to when my dad would have bought his. He planted a lavender one and a white one. Both are still alive but the white one is doing really well, covering the yard with either suckers or seedlings.

Since Oklahoma is so hot in the summer I thought what grew there might grow well here. Later I learned that the problem with most lilacs out here is that our winters aren't cold enough (Oklahomas are similar but usually include a week or two of very cold weather - key to lilac blooming). And they seem to not like heat with humidity (who does?). After seeing all the lilacs in bloom this spring I think there is more to this than meets the eye. I think that you have to plant them and wait a long long time to get them settled and happy - longer than the folks do up north. Someone in my garden club brought an entire vase full of flowers to a recent meeting and they were all the color forms you see in catalogs (S. vulgaris), and they said they didn't do anything special to get them to bloom.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 11:16AM
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Nck - The white Lilac bought at Lowes was probably "Excel". I bought one at the Lowes in Kville 2 years ago at the end of the season.

Another thing that Lilacs probably don't like down here is the soil. They like a sweet soil not acidic and my yard is very acidic. I give my Lilacs a shot of lime twice a year. I think that is helping.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 8:08AM
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A lot of lilacs will get mildew in our humidity, and S vulgaris requires a certain amount of chill to bloom well. The California hybrids (X hyacinthiflora, which are usually S. vulgaris x oblata) were developed for areas with mild winters. They come in all colors.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 10:04AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

JP, thanks for chiming in here. I have seen lilacs at Lowes in the past and had one at each of two previous houses that did well in my gardens there that came from local Lowes, but mine were more lavender in color and not white. The ones in the picture are actually lavender also but were fading when I finally got around to taking pictures of it so that is why they look white in the picture. Sorry for the confusion.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 2:28PM
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Someone gave me this lilac a few years ago. I don't know which one it is, but it has done quite nicely in my yard.

Here's a close-up in case anyone wants to try and ID it for me.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 8:44PM
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