Lilacs have been popular in gardens for centuries. A lilac bush's clusters of purple or white blossoms and their sweet scent draw you in and surround you with a delicate fragrance that feeds the soul. Lilacs are available in a wide variety of traditional colors and sizes, and there are also an abundance of new cultivars, ensuring that any gardener can find a lilac to suit his needs..
The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is the most popular lilac and, like many lilacs, you can grow them as either a large shrub or a small tree. Growing 18 to 20 feet tall, its heavily scented flowers are often white, light lilac or mauve. Each year, the shrubs produce small shoots called "suckers" that can produce new trees, making this a good lilac for thrifty gardeners.
The Persian Lilac (Syringa persica), with its clusters of lavender flowers, grows from 5 to 8 feet tall and should be planted in partial sun. It does not tolerate temperature extremes very well and is hardy only in Zones 3 through 7. You must make sure that this lilac is planted in a well-drained area because overly moist soil or standing water will cause root rot. This plant has very graceful, arching branches that add an interesting touch to your landscaping even after the tree is done blooming.
Native to Eastern and Central Europe, the Hungarian lilac (Syringa josikaea) grows from 6 to 12 feet. The flowers tend to be dark pink and have a strong fragrance. These lilacs do best in cool to temperate climate and are usually very hardy even in the colder areas that get frost. Hungarian lilacs can be grown in full sun to semi-shade.
The Miss Kim (Syringa patula "Miss Kim") is a very showy lilac with light lavender flowers, deep green foliage and a strong, heady scent. Unlike most other lilacs, however, its foliage turns a deep red in the fall. Miss Kim grows from 6 to 7 feet and does very well as a bush or shrub. It prefers full sun but is very susceptible to drought; be sure to keep this lilac well-watered.