15 Beautiful Lilac Varieties

Mixed Lilac Varieties
Photo: Digihelion/Getty Images
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    The Smell of Springtime

    Lilac Vase
    Photo: Andrea Kamal/Getty Images

    Purple lovers, unite. Lilacs give us so much to be thankful for. They are exceptionally hardy and long-lived, they require very little maintenance, they attract pollinators in droves, and they have a wonderful fragrance. With centuries of breeding efforts behind it, this spring shrub has more reasons than ever to attract new followers.

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    Dwarf Korean Lilac

    Dwarf Korean Lilac, Syringa Meyeri Palabin
    Photo: Neil Holmes/Getty Images

    Not just for small spaces, the dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri "Palibin") is large enough at five feet tall and seven feet wide to add heft to the spring border, while not overwhelming the average suburban lot. The dense growth habit of "Palabin" lilac makes it a good candidate for a hedge. As a bonus, the shrubs are resistant to mildew. 

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    Souvenir de Louis Spaeth

    Lilac Souvenir de Louis Spaeth
    Photo: Neil Holmes/Getty Images

    The cerise blooms of "Souvenir de Louis Spaeth" attract butterflies and hummingbirds like mad in May, while shrugging off nibbling deer and rabbits. Although the 12-foot shrub has a vigorous growth habit, this cultivar is at its best in cool summer areas where powdery mildew is less likely to turn the foliage into an eyesore. 

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    Miss Kim

    Miss Kim Lilac
    Photo: Sunniva Harte/Getty Images

    The icy lavender flower panicles of "Miss Kim" lilac will announce that spring has arrived every May in your full sun garden. The cold and heat tolerance of this variety has given it a wide following from Minnesota to Georgia. Try "Miss Kim" as a south-facing foundation planting, as the shrubs average 5 to 6 feet in height. 

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    Sensation Lilac
    Photo: Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    The bicolor flowers of "Sensation" lilac live up to its name, providing gardeners with a stop-and-stare (and smell) 15-foot specimen for the back of the spring border. If your shrub produces any branches with non-variegated flowers, prune those out so the plant doesn't revert to a solid purple bush. 

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    Littleleaf Lilac

    Littleleaf Lilac Syringa pubescens ssp. Microphylla 'Superba'
    Photo: Juliette Wade/Getty Images

    Syringa microphylla "Superba" strikes the perfect balance of lush rosy-pink flower clusters and petite leaves on a 6-foot lilac shrub. Although lilacs are known for being somewhat blah in the landscape after flowering is finished, "Superba" may surprise with late summer rebloom in ideal growing conditions of strong sun, mild summers, and regular irrigation. 

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    Tinkerbelle Lilac
    Photo: Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    The cheerful bubblegum pink blooms of Syringa baibelle "Tinkerbelle" give gardeners with smaller landscapes an opportunity to experience the fragrance of a late-blooming lilac, as the plants won't exceed 6 feet in height. The slow-growing, compact plants require very little maintenance, and resist mildew as well. 

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  • 08 of 16

    Wedgwood Blue

    Wedgwood Blue Lilac
    Photo: Maria Mosolova

    The ethereal blooms of "Wedgwood Blue" lilac manage to be energizing and soothing at the same time. Repeat the wonderful lavender-blue tones in your landscape with companion plantings of wisteria, forget-me-nots, Dutch iris, and grape hyacinth to capitalize on the tranquility of this hue.

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    Maiden's Blush

    Syringa hyacinthiflora Maiden's Blush
    Photo: Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    The upright form of "Maiden's Blush" lilac makes it perfect to add to your landscape as a single specimen, as part of a border, or as a group planting. The variation in tone between buds and open blossoms gives the appearance of layers of pigment, as in a Monet painting. Prune after flowering to keep the height at a manageable 8 to 10 feet. 

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    Charles Joly

    Charles Joly Lilac
    Photo: Francois de Heel/Getty Images

    A "Charles Joly" lilac is a strong tonic against the dreary rainy days of spring, especially when planted beside a stand of cheerful yellow daffodils. "Charles Joly" is one of the larger lilac varieties at 15 feet, which is great for gardeners who love to harvest armloads of cut flowers without sacrificing the beauty of the outdoor bloom show. 

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    Madame Florent Stepman

    Madame Florent Stepman White Lilac
    Photo: Eric Crichton/Getty Images

    As a shrub that can live for decades, it's important to choose a lilac cultivar with a timeless appearance. A white-blooming shrub like "Madame Florent Stepman" lilac can give the spring garden a traditional look, while complementing any house color. 

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    Mrs. Edward Harding

    Small Syringa vulgaris 'Mrs Edward Harding' (Lilac) tree
    Photo: Eric Crichton/Getty Images

    It doesn't take much effort to train a French lilac like "Mrs. Edward Harding" into tree form. Prune off all side shoots on a young shrub to a strong central leader, and maintain with annual pruning after flowering.  

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    Katherine Havemeyer

    Lilac Katherine Havemeyer
    Photo: Neil Holmes/Getty Images

    If you've been looking for a reason to purchase a garden bench, plant a "Katherine Havemeyer" lilac. The lush, bright pink panicles are as appealing to touch as they are to smell. Sitting beneath its May blossoms while you sip a cup of tea feels positively decadent. 

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    Paul Thirion

    Paul Thirion Lilac
    Photo: James Young/Getty Images

    Fully double flowers on the "Paul Thirion" lilac will give your spring floral arrangements extra petal power. This compact variety looks right at home by the front porch or the patio, where its compact growth habit won't interfere with foot traffic. 

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    Declaration Lilac
    Photo: Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    "Declaration" lilacs bloom about two weeks earlier than most. You can coax even earlier blooms with the practice of forcing, which is cutting branches in bud to be brought into bloom indoors. 

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    Mechta Lilac
    Photo: Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    The heavy spicy scent of "Mechta" is just what you'd expect from a lilac. The silvery lavender blossoms look very feminine in the cottage garden, planted beside a white picket fence.