'Miss Kim' Lilac Plant Profile

Miss Kim lilac (Syringa pubescens -- subsp. patula)

David Beaulieu/The Spruce

The 'Miss Kim' lilac is a deciduous flowering shrub that produces clusters of fragrant, lavender-purple panicle-shaped blooms in Spring. This cultivar is quite resistant to powdery mildew. It has smaller blooms, a shorter mature height, and a flower fragrance that differs from the traditional common or French lilac (Syringa vulgaris). It is a good choice for planting in full sun gardens where space is limited. Because it is a late bloomer, Its flower buds are less likely to be damaged by frost. The foliage turns red or burgundy in autumn making it an attractive three-season plant. 'Miss Kim' attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and is also deer-resistant.

Botanical Name Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim'
Common Name 'Miss Kim' lilac, Manchurian lilac
Plant Type Flowering deciduous shrub
Mature Size 4 to 9 feet tall, 5 to 7 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Loamy
Soil pH 7 (neutral)
Bloom Time Spring to early summer
Flower Color Lavender-purple
Hardiness Zones 3 to 8 (USDA)
Native Area Korea, Manchuria

'Miss Kim' characteristics

'Miss Kim' is suitable to be used as a specimen plant, for planting in a mixed shrub border, as a foundation planting, or as a hedge. Although 'Miss Kim' is more resistant to powdery mildew than other lilac species, it's a good idea to provide sufficient air circulation.

The 'Miss Kim' cultivar is sometimes called a dwarf cultivar compared to other lilacs, but compact would be a better description. It is a slow grower and it takes time to reach its mature height. You generally don't have to wait as long for the first blooms on a newly planted specimen as you do with the common lilacs.

Opinions vary on the strong fragrance of 'Miss Kim' blooms. The scent of the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), is powerful but sweet, whereas 'Miss Kim's' flower fragrance seems overly sharp to some. Let your own nose decide.

Light

The 'Miss Kim' lilac, like its cousins, prefers full sun in order to bloom well. It can tolerate some shade, but it won't produce as many blooms. An ideal location receives direct sun for at least six to eight hours per day.

Soil

Plant 'Miss Kim' in well-drained soil with a neutral soil pH. This lilac does not do well in acidic soil. Ideally, you'll want to work some compost into the soil, and 'Miss Kim' is likely to succeed with little effort on your part (in fact, it's even reasonably pollution-tolerant).

Water

'Miss Kim' requires average moisture, so keep the soil evenly moist. When establishing a new plant, water it well. After it is well-rooted, the plant will tolerate drying out now and then. Monitor the soil and if the area is dry, provide supplemental water. Watering weekly will be sufficient in most climates, but you might need to water more often in cases of extreme heat. You don't want to over-water or underwater 'Miss Kim' or it might not bloom.

Temperature and Humidity

'Miss Kim' lilacs do well in zones 3 through 9, so they can survive and thrive in the southern as well as the northern United States. Unlike other lilacs that often develop powdery mildew in humid conditions, 'Miss Kim' is more resistant to fungal problems.

Fertilizer

Use a small amount of all-purpose, balanced fertilizer during the winter, but don't fertilize in the spring or your lilac might not bloom.

Propagating Lilacs

Like other lilacs, 'Miss Kim' is most easily propagated with young softwood cuttings.

Take 4- to 6-inch-long cuttings from the new growth in late spring or early summer, then strip off the bottom leaves and plant them in a mixture of potting soil, sand, and perlite, with the upper leaves exposed. Dipping the end of the cutting into rooting hormone helps promote rooting. Roots will emerge from the buried nodes where the leaves were removed. Place the pot in a warm location and keep the potting mix damp until a good network of roots is established. Transplant into larger pots or into the garden.

Related Varieties of Lilacs

Other cultivars in the S. pubescens species include:

  • S. pubescens subsp. julianae 'Hers' has a weeping tree form.
  • S. pubescens subsp. microphylla 'Superba' features deep pink flowers. Also known as the littleleaf lilac with possible re-bloom in summer or fall.

Compact lilac cultivars include:

  • Syringa meyeri 'Palibin" is commonly called Meyer lilac or Korean lilac. It is hardy in zones 3 to 7. It grows 4 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide and has pale pink flowers.
  • Syringa meyeri 'Tinkerbelle' is hardy in zones 3 to 7. It grows 6 feet tall and wide and has wine-red flowers.
  • Syringa x meyeri 'Josee' has a compact, rounded habit. It is hardy in zones 3 to 7. It grows 4 to 6 feet in height and spread and has lavender-pink flowers.
  • Syringa x 'Bloomerang' is hardy in zones 4 to 7. It is a true dwarf at just 3 to 4 feet in both height and width. It has purplish-pink blooms and is named for its ability to rebloom. It is considered to be a hybrid of 'Josee'.

Pruning and deadheading

Deadheading blooms after they fade will increase blooming the following year as well encourage as possible reblooming in the current year.

'Miss Kim' lilacs require less pruning than the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris. But you might choose to prune it to shape the plant, maintain a certain height, or to encourage reblooming. Prune right after the blooming period because 'Miss Kim'  blooms on old wood and if you prune too late in the season, you will remove next year's blooms. If you prune too severely, you might not see blooms for one to three years. If you find that blooms have reduced in size year over year, pruning will help increase bloom size next year.

Because 'Miss Kim' doesn't produce suckers like Syringa vulgaris does, landscape maintenance is reduced because you don't have to remove suckers to keep the plant contained.