'Miss Kim' Lilac Plant Profile

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

David Beaulieu/The Spruce

The 'Miss Kim' lilac is a deciduous shrub that ha smaller flower clusters and a smaller stature than the traditional common lilac (sometimes called the French lilac). Being compact, it is a good choice if you're pressed for room in your yard. Its flower buds are less likely to be damaged by frost, as it is a later-bloomer. The foliage picks up some red or burgundy in its leaves in autumn, making it an attractive plant three seasons of the year. These plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds as well as being deer-resistant. 'Miss Kim' lilacs have a strong fragrance that differs from common lilacs.

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
Flower Color Purple
Hardiness Zones 3 to 8 (USDA)
Native Area Korea, Manchuria

How to Grow 'Miss Kim' Lilacs

'Miss Kim' is suitable for foundation plantings, placing in the front of a border, or using as a low hedge. As is usually true of Syringa species, it's a good idea to promote air circulation to prevent powdery mildew by giving the plants enough spacing.

The 'Miss Kim' cultivar is sometimes called a dwarf, but compact would be a better description for it. It is a slow grower, so a smaller plant will take its time reaching its full potential. 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' lilacs. The scent of the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), is powerful but sweet, whereas 'Miss Kim's' flowers smell overly sharp to some. Let your own nose decide.

Deadheading the flowers after they fade will help produce increased blooming next year, as well as possible reblooming in the current year.

Light

The 'Miss Kim' lilac, like its cousins, prefers full sun in order to bloom well. Select a location that will get sun for at least six hours per day.

Soil

Install this flowering bush in well-drained soil with a neutral soil pH. Ideally, you'll want to work some compost into the ground, but 'Miss Kim' isn't overly fussy about soil and is likely to succeed with just a little effort on your part regarding location and site preparation (in fact, it's even reasonably pollution-tolerant).

Water

The watering needs of the plant are average, 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, give the lilac some water. Watering weekly will be sufficient in most climates, but you may need to water more often in cases of extreme heat. You don't want to overwater or underwater your 'Miss Kim' or it may not bloom.

Temperature and Humidity

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

Fertilizer

Use a little all-purpose fertilizer during the winter. But don't fertilize in the spring or your lilac may 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 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.

Related Varieties of Lilacs

Other types in the S. pubescens species include:

  • S. pubescens subsp. julianae 'Hers' has a weeping form.
  • S. pubescens subsp. microphylla 'Superba' has pink flowers and smaller leaves.

Other types of lilacs that are compact include:

  • Syringa meyeri 'Palibin" 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' is hardy in zones 2 to 8. It grows 4 to 6 feet in height and spread and has lavender 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 a hybrid of 'Josee'.

Pruning

'Miss Kim' lilacs don't require the amount of pruning that Syringa vulgaris does. But you may choose to prune it to shape the plant and promote reblooming. Prune right after the blooming period, since the bushes bloom on old wood. If you prune too severely, you might not see blooms for one to three years. Once the blooms have gotten smaller, you have the go-ahead to prune.

'Miss Kim' doesn't sucker the way Syringa vulgaris does. This means lower landscape maintenance on a property with limited space, where you would have to remove the suckers so as to keep the plant contained in the space chosen for it.