Lilac (syringa vulgaris)

CIMG7091copyI absolutely adore lilac, and no spring would be complete without their fragrant generous blooms.  Always makes me think of Marc Chagall’s lovers among the lilac, with spring as the season of love writ large.

Syringa vulgaris is a large shrub with intense, sweetly scented blossom, which can grow to the size of a small tree, with a spread of 23 feet high and wide – but can be kept shorter with pruning after flowering.

Lilac love full sun and fertile soils, but also copes well with heavy clay and even chalky soils.

Deadheading will improve its appearance and its flowering – so don’t hesitate to gather plenty of blooms for your vases as that’s simply deadheading in advance, as it were.

If cutting for indoor bouquets, a top florist tip is to bash the stems of cut lilacs to give them a longer vase life

Propagation: If you spot a lilac you really like in someone else’s garden, you can ask to take a cutting in June (or a sucker in autumn).  Softwood cuttings are taken in spring and early summer, from the tender new growth of the season.  If potted by mid-summer they will develop sufficient roots to survive the winter, otherwise pot up in the following spring.