Growing 'Miss Kim' Lilac

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

The Spruce / David Beaulieu

In This Article

The 'Miss Kim' lilac is a deciduous flowering shrub that produces clusters of very fragrant, lavender-purple panicle-shaped blooms in spring. It has smaller blooms, a shorter mature height, and a different flower fragrance from the traditional common or French lilac (Syringa vulgaris), and unlike the common lilac, it is quite resistant to powdery mildew. Because 'Lil Kim' is a late bloomer, its flower buds are less likely to be damaged by frost.

The 'Miss Kim' cultivar is sometimes considered a dwarf plant when compared to other lilacs, but compact would be a better description. This is still a full-sized shrub, but one that is more dense and less leggy than common lilacs. A newly planted 'Miss Kim' will also produce blooms sooner than does a common lilac. 'Miss Kim' is a fairly slow-growing shrub that will take about three years to achieve a mature height of about 5 feet.

'Miss Kim' is a good choice for planting in full sun gardens where space is limited. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and is also deer-resistant. The foliage turns red or burgundy in autumn, making it an attractive three-season plant for your landscape. '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.

Botanical Name Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim'
Common Name 'Miss Kim' lilac, Manchurian lilac
Plant Type Flowering deciduous shrub
Mature Size 4 –9 feet tall, 5–7 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Loamy
Soil pH 6.5–7.5 (neutral)
Bloom Time Spring to early summer
Flower Color Lavender-purple
Hardiness Zones 3–8 (USDA)
Native Area Korea, Manchuria
Toxicity Non-toxic
Miss Kim lilacs

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Miss Kim lilacs

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Miss Kim lilacs

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

'Miss Kim' Lilac Care

Like most shrubs, 'Miss Kim' is usually planted as a potted nursery specimen. Choose a landscape location enjoys full sun and well-drained soil, then dig a hole that is at least twice as large as the nursery container, place the shrub in the center, and backfill around the root ball with soil. Water thoroughly and apply a mulch of wood bark or compost over the roots but not touching the shrub.

While the shrub is getting established, water frequently. Don't fertilize until it's been in place for at least a month. Once established, this shrub will do fine with a weekly watering (if there has been no rain) and feeding once a year. Pruning is needed only if you want to shape the plant.

'Miss Kim' is a largely trouble-free shrub—even more so than common lilacs. The flower buds and young leaves can be damaged by last spring frost, but the shrub rebounds easily. While more resistant to powdery mildew than other lilacs, 'Miss Kim' still prefers good air circulation.

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.

Water

'Miss Kim' requires average moisture, so keep the soil evenly moist. When establishing a new plant, water it well, but 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 generally do well in zones 3 through 9, but they aren't good choices for the deep South. This shrub is slightly less cold-tolerant than the common lilac, but it is still reliably hardy down to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 3 gardeners may want to plant it in a sheltered location. Unlike other lilacs that often develop powdery mildew in humid conditions, 'Miss Kim' is more resistant to fungal problems.

Fertilizer

'Miss KIm' should get a small feeding about a month after planting it in the spring, but after than a single annual feeding in late fall is all that's required. Use a small amount of all-purpose, balanced fertilizer.

Related Lilac Varieties

These are two other cultivars in the S. pubescens species:

  • 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.

Consider these compact lilac cultivars:

  • 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

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, to maintain a certain height, or to encourage reblooming. Prune right after the blooming period because 'Miss Kim'  blooms on old wood. If you prune too late in the season, you will remove next year's blooms; pruning that is too severe might even reduce flowering for up to three years. But if you find that blooms have reduced in size year over year, a mild pruning will help increase bloom size for the following 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.

Propagating 'Lil Kim' Lilac

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 remaining 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. Then, transplant into larger pots or into the garden.