Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Loving Lilacs

Who doesn't love lilacs? They have a scent stronger than roses that carries quite a distance. There are more than 1,000 varieties in several colors including white and pink (the most popular colors are lilac and purple), blooming in April and May depending on the variety an d area you live in.

The ideal lilac shrub has about 10 canes and produces flowers at eye-level—all the better to enjoy that sweet, haunting fragrance—and they can live for hundreds of years!

Lilacs, both Syringa vulgaris and S. x persica, the finer, smaller "Persian Lilac," were introduced into European gardens at the end of the 16th century, from Ottoman gardens. Lilacs were brought to the American colonies in the 18th century where they were planted in our first botanical gardens and both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew lilacs in their gardens. New Hampshire recognizes the lilac blossom as the official state flower, because it "is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State."
Grow lilacs in fertile, humus-rich, well drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Select a site where your lilac will get full sun—at least six hours.
Lilac bushes are prone to powdery mildew disease, so provide good air circulation by keeping their branches pruned. Lilacs bloom on old wood so prune right after blooming is over. In addition to branch pruning, thin out old ‘canes’ and cut the dead flowers off when they're done blooming. Lilacs are a delightful addition to your spring flower garden and with proper sitting and minimal care will reward you with their intoxicating fragrance for years to come … perhaps even hundreds of years!

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