Most lilacs prefer cold-winter climates, but a few will also grow well in warmer regions.
If you garden in Zone 7 or 8 and have been longing for lilacs, try ‘Betsy Ross’, a lovely white-flowered hybrid lilac introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum.
This large, multi-stemmed shrub has a dense, rounded growth habit. It blooms several weeks earlier than most common lilac cultivars (Syringa vulgaris) and is covered with many clusters of fragrant single white flowers. Betsy Ross lilac has large, emerald green leaves that show good resistance to powdery mildew.
Common name: Betsy Ross lilac
Botanical name: Syringa ‘Betsy Ross’ (sometimes listed as S. oblata ‘Betsy Ross’)
Plant type: Deciduous shrub
Zones: 4 to 8
Height: 8 to 10 feet
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Average, moderately fertile, with near neutral pH (6.5 to 7.5)
• Moisture: Medium moisture, well-drained
• Mulch: 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch such as wood chips
• Pruning: Prune lightly after flowering to improve formor thin out stems.
• Fertilizer: Apply balanced fertilizer or compost in early spring as needed.
Pests and diseases
• No major problems
• Plant Betsy Ross lilac with other early blooming lilacs that have purple, lavender or magenta flowers for a glorious spring display.
• Its height and dense growth make Betsy Ross lilac a good choice for an informal hedge.
• Early lilac (Syringaoblata) is one of Betsy Ross lilac’s parents, which explains this cultivar’s early bloom time.
All in the family
• Lilacs are members of the olive family (Oleaceae), which contains about 600 species distributed worldwide.
• In addition to lilacs, other popular landscape plants in the olive family include ashes (Fraxinus spp.), privets (Ligustrum spp.), fringetrees (Chionanthus spp.) and forsythias.
• The olive(Oleaeuropaea) is economically important for its fruit and oil and also has cultural significance dating back more than 4,000 years.
Where to buy
• Digging Dog Nursery, diggingdog.com
• Fairweather Gardens, fairweathergardens.com
• New Garden Plants, newgardenplants.com