14 Beautiful Types of Lilac

Maiden's blush lilac with reddish-purple flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

After a long, dreary winter, cheerful lilacs are the perfect way to welcome spring. They attract pollinators in droves and have a decadent fragrance that's prized the world over. Part of the Oleaceae family (which also comprises olive, jasmine, and ash), the Syringa genus of garden lilacs includes several species, each with multiple cultivars.

Nearly all of these flowering woody plants are exceptionally hardy, easy to grow, and long-lived, requiring very little maintenance except for pruning to keep plants to a manageable size. Pruning is done immediately after flowers have faded. Lilacs thrive and produce the most blooms when they are planted in full sun.

Lilacs typically bloom in mid- to late spring, though the bloom time varies slightly, depending on the species and variety. The lush clusters of flowers generally range in hue from pink to deep purple, but various cultivars offer other color options. Thanks to centuries of breeding efforts by professionals and hobbyists alike, lilacs are suitable for virtually every full sun garden.

Here are 14 gorgeous lilacs to consider for your landscape.

Tip

Most lilacs spread through suckering. Suckers are vigorous vertical growth originating from the roots or lower main stem of a plant. This can be an advantage if you want the lilac to spread and become a screening thicket, but otherwise you'll need to regularly remove the suckers if you want the shrub to remain confined.

  • 01 of 14

    Andenken An Louis Spaeth (Syringa vulgaris 'Andeken an Louis Spaeth')

    The Andeken an Louis Spaeth lilac with purple-red blooms
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    This cultivar of the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, which is sometimes sold by its translated name, 'Souvenir of Louis Spaeth', is a beautiful shrub with purple-red flowers that appear in May. It tends to grow smaller than the common lilac, which can soar to 16 feet. This variety has a great capacity for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds when in bloom but is not very appealing to deer and rabbits. It's best in cool-summer areas where powdery mildew is less likely to turn the foliage into an eyesore. Even more than other lilacs, this cultivar dislikes warm, humid climates.

    • Native Area: Europe, eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 9–12 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 02 of 14

    Sensation (Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation')

    The Sensation lilac with purple-and-white flowers

    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images

    Sensation is another popular cultivar of the common lilac. The bicolor flowers of this variety live up to their name, providing gardeners with a stop-and-stare (and smell) specimen for the back of the spring border. If your shrub produces branches with non-variegated flowers, prune those out so the plant doesn't revert to solid purple flowers.

    • Native Area: Europe, eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 8–10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 03 of 14

    Wedgewood Blue (Syringa vulgaris 'Wedgewood Blue')

    The Wedgewood Blue lilac with lavender-blue blossoms
    Maria Mosolova

    While many varieties of common lilac are rather large shrubs, 'Wedgewood Blue' is much smaller, making it a good choice for small gardens and landscapes. Unusual pink buds give way to pale lavender flowers in April and May. The color manages to be both soothing and energizing 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.

    • Native Area: Europe, eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 4–6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 04 of 14

    Charles Joly (Syringa vulgaris 'Charles Joly')

    The Charles Joly lilac with pink blooms

    Francois de Heel / Getty Images

    The 'Charles Joly' lilac, a French lilac held in high esteem, is a strong tonic against the dreary rainy days of spring, especially when planted beside a stand of cheerful yellow daffodils or planted alongside clematis vines. This lilac is ideal for gardeners who love to harvest armloads of cut flowers without sacrificing the beauty of the outdoor bloom show. Opening with purple buds, this cultivar produces fragrant, magenta double flowers.

    • Native Area: Europe, eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 10-12 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
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  • 05 of 14

    Mrs. Edward Harding (Syringa vulgaris 'Mrs. Edward Harding')

    The Mrs. Edward Harding lilac with purple flowers
    Eric Crichton / Getty Images

    It doesn't take much effort to train a common lilac cultivar like 'Mrs. Edward Harding' into tree form. Prune off all side shoots on a young shrub to a strong central leader, and maintain this shape with annual pruning after flowering. It's a fairly slow-growing variety, requiring 10–20 years to achieve its full size. This cultivar has a fairly typical purple color when the flowers first bloom, but as they fade, they develop a deep pink hue.

    • Native Area: Europe, eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 8–12 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 06 of 14

    Katherine Havemeyer (Syringa vulgaris 'Katherine Havemeyer')

    The Katherine Havemeyer lilac with pale lavender flowers
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    If you've been looking for a reason to purchase a garden bench, plant a 'Katherine Havemeyer' lilac because you will want to sit near it. The lush, flower 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. This is another common lilac cultivar, but it has a particularly long bloom period. It pairs well with clematis vines growing up through its branches. This variety has light green, heart-shaped leaves and produces very fragrant lavender-purple blooms that fade to pink as they mature.

    • Native Area: Europe, eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–7
    • Height: 8–10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 07 of 14

    Paul Thirion (Syringa vulgaris 'Paul Thirion')

    The Paul Thirion lilac with purple flowers
    James Young / Getty Images

    Fully double flowers of pink on the common lilac cultivar 'Paul Thirion' will give your spring floral arrangements extra petal power. This somewhat smaller variety looks right at home by the front porch or the patio, where its growth habit won't interfere with foot traffic. It has very dense foliage but is somewhat leggy, with the foliage typically starting about 2 feet off the ground.

    • Native Area: Europe, Eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 8–10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 08 of 14

    Madame Florent Stepman (Syringa vulgaris 'Madame Florent Stepman')

    The Madame Florent Stepman lilac with white flowers
    Eric Crichton / Getty Images

    Because a lilac shrub can live for decades, it's important to choose a cultivar with a timeless appearance. A white-blooming variety like the 'Madame Florent Stepman' lilac can give the spring garden a traditional look while complementing any house color. This is a typical common lilac in every way but one: rather than the usual pink and purple flowers, this cultivar produces dense panicles of creamy white blooms.

    • Native Area: Europe, eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 8–15 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
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  • 09 of 14

    Maiden's Blush (Syringa × hyacinthiflora 'Maiden's Blush')

    Maiden's blush lilac with reddish-purple flowers and buds closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    'Maiden's Blush' is a hybrid cross introduced in 1966. It blooms 7 to 10 days earlier than other lilacs, with reddish-purple buds giving way to pale pink flowers. The upright form 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 this lilac at a manageable height.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8
    • Height: 10-12 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 10 of 14

    Declaration (Syringa x hyacinthiflora 'Declaration')

    The Declaration lilac with purple blooms
    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images

    'Declaration' is another early flowering lilac that blooms 7 to 10 days earlier than most varieties.You can coax even earlier blooms with the practice of forcing, which is cutting branches in bud to be brought into bloom indoors. This variety has deep reddish-purple flowers with single petals. Its open, upright growth habit remains quite attractive in the landscape even after the flowers fade.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 6-8 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 11 of 14

    Palibin (Syringa meyeri 'Palibin')

    The Palabin lilac with purple flowers
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    The Meyer or Korean lilac is not known to exist in the wild; it was first discovered in a Beijing garden in 1909. Unlike the common lilac, which can be a chore to keep pruned, the Korean lilac is a smallish shrub that grows to no more than 8 feet high. The 'Palibin' cultivar is an even shorter plant, at 5 feet high, but its 7-foot spread creates enough heft for use in a spring border without overwhelming the average suburban lot. The dense growth habit makes it a good candidate for a hedge, too. The flowers are pale pink, blooming in April and May. As a bonus, the shrubs are resistant to mildew.

    • Native Area: discovered growing in a garden near Beijing, China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 4-5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 12 of 14

    Miss Kim (Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim' )

    The Miss Kim lilac with white and pink flowers
    Sunniva Harte / Getty Images

    'Miss Kim' is a cultivar of the S. pubescens type of lilac, a species sometimes known as Manchurian lilac. Every May, the lavender to ice-blue fragrant flower panicles of 'Miss Kim' will announce that spring has arrived. Thanks to its cold and heat tolerance, this variety has a wide following, from Minnesota to Georgia. 'Miss Kim' is shorter than most lilacs, making it a good choice for foundation plantings.  

    • Native Area: China, Korea
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 4–9 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
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  • 13 of 14

    Superba (Syringa pubescens subsp. microphylla 'Superba')

    The Superba lilac with pink flowers
    Juliette Wade / Getty Images

    Littleleaf lilacs belong to another subspecies of S. pubescens. They're shorter, wider shrubs than the common lilac, and the 'Superba' cultivar is even broader, growing to 14 feet wide while remaining only about 7 feet high. It has a number of additional advantages, including more petite leaves; lush, rosy-pink flowers; a small rebloom in summer and fall; and better resistance to powdery mildew. This is the rare lilac that offers full season appeal.

    • Native Area: China, Korea
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–6
    • Height: 5–7 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 14 of 14

    Tinkerbelle (Syringa x Bailbelle)

    The Bailbelle lilac with pink flowers
    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images

    The cheerful bubblegum-pink blooms of 'Bailbelle' 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 and have a nicely compact shape. The slow-growing plants require very little maintenance and resist mildew as well. It's often sold by a registered trademark name, Tinkerbelle. This lilac is a hybrid of 'Palibin' and 'Superba'.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to China and Korea
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 4–6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full

Watch Now: How to Prune Lilac Bushes