It’s lilac season, to the delight of fragrance lovers. Most people know the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris). We prize it for wonderfully fragrant flowers, but when not in bloom, the shrub is somewhat less lovable It grows fairly big over time: 10 to 15 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide, or more. It needs full sun for best flowering and good air circulation to minimize mildew on the leaves—a common problem in summer. Mature lilacs become leggy at the base, and the shrub has an irregular, somewhat unwieldy form.
Fortunately, other lilac types offer equal fragrance in a more compact shrub form that fits better in most landscapes. ‘Miss Kim’ is a popular variety with a compact, dense habit. It’s usually seen in the 6 foot high range, though can reach 10 feet after many years. The reddish purple fall color is nice. To our taste, Miss Kim looks better in the landscape than the gangly common lilac.
Another variety, ‘Bloomerang,’ is more compact still, usually around 4-5 feet high. The selling point, as the name suggests, is that it reblooms. If you deadhead and trim lightly after the first bloom in spring, Bloomerang will come back to bloom again in late summer. As an added bonus, this variety is moderately resistant to mildew.
A nice way to dress up the bottom of a leggy common lilac is to plant a Miss Kim or Bloomerang in front.