Choosing Your Lilac

There’s nothing quite like the sight and smell of lilacs in the spring! Along with their beauty and fragrance, they are a low maintenance shrub and really thrive here in upstate NY. With proper maintenance and care, they can last for years in your garden.

Spring or fall is the best time for planting lilac bushes. When planting, you will need to make your hole deep enough and wide enough to accomodate the roots spread out vertically in the ground. You can plant multiple bushes together to create a nice hedgerow, just make sure to space them at least 5 feet apart to prevent overcrowding.

Lilacs need an area with plenty of afternoon sun and good drainage. They do especially well when planted in a slightly elevated area since the drainage tends to be better. Once planted, make sure to water them thoroughly and add a layer of loose mulch for protection. The mulch should be thick enough to prevent weed growth and maintain adequate moisture but not so thick that it holds too much moisture.

The flowers of lilacs range in color from pink to purple; however, white and yellow varieties are also available. Their size can also range from dwarf varieties up to 8 feet tall to much larger varieties reaching up to 30 feet tall. Check out our listing of lilacs to see which one is right for your space.

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Agincourt Beauty
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The Agincourt Beauty has deep purple fragrant flowers that are single, and each floret is very large; has the largest florets of all  lilacs. It is one of the best purples available today.

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Albert F. Holden
Height:  8­-10 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The deep‐purple buds open to deep‐violet flowers with a silvery blush on the back side,  creating a striking two‐tone effect. The unusual blossoms of “Albert F. Holden” also have an unforgettable fragrance.

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Beauty of Moscow
Height:  10-­12 ft.
Spacing: 8 ft.

Beauty of Moscow is one of the finest lilacs with fragrant, double, delicate pink flowers. It is excellent as a cut flower and provides years of satisfaction.

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Bloomerang
Height:  4-­6 ft.
Spacing: 5­-6 ft.

Enjoy classic lilac fragrance for months instead of weeks! A revolutionary new kind of lilac, Bloomerang blooms in spring and then again throughout the summer. It  does go through a rest period in the heat of the summer, then flowers.

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Charles Joly
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

Charles Joly is a French Hybrid with shiny purple buds opening into double, magenta flowers that are very fragrant and excellent for cutting. It is considered to be the best in its color class.

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Common Purple
Height:  8-­10 ft.
Spacing: 8-10 ft.

One of the most popular lilacs is the Common Purple. This shrub has been a favorite for decades because you can essentially ignore it and it will give you a fantastic spring color show full of fabulous fragrance every single year, without fail. Lovely lavender flower clusters sit against dark‐green, heart‐shaped leaves, and the fragrance is just captivating.

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Common White
Height: 12-15 ft.
Spacing: 8-12 ft.

The Common White is well‐known and loved by gardeners all over the world for its beauty and fragrance; one of the most powerful fragrances emitted by a plant. It has white flowers occurring in clusters amid the dark‐green heart‐shaped leaves.

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Donald Wyman
Height:  10 ft.
Spacing: 8 ft.

Deep pink to almost reddish single flowers that bloom in early June. Sturdy, dense and upright growth. Blooms  2 weeks later than other lilacs. Yellow fall color.

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Dwarf Korean
Height:  4-­5 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The Dwarf Korean Lilac is known as a compact but spreading, small-foliaged Lilac with showy May lavender purple flowers that are spread over the entire shrub canopy.

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Ivory Silk
Height:  20-­25 ft.
Spacing: 20-­25 ft.

The Japanese Ivory Silk Tree Lilac produces  ravishingly fragrant, creamy‐white panicles.  Landscapers love this plant for its interesting  spreading branches and vase shaped crown, its long June through July blooming season and easy care. Ruddy, cherry like bark and neat, dark green leaves contrast nicely with the creaminess of the flowers.

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James MacFarlane
Height:  8 ft.
Spacing: 6-­10 ft.

The James Macfarlane blooms two weeks later than Syringa vulgaris types. The single true pink flowers bloom freely. It is extremely hardy and adaptable, withstanding moisture conditions fatal to vulgaris hybrids.

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Katherine Havermeyer
Height:  10-­12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

Katherine Havemeyer is an early blooming French Hybrid that produces abundant clusters of double, lavender‐pink, fragrant flowers among dark green, disease resistant foliage.

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Ludwig Spaeth
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 6-­8 ft.

Ludwig Spaeth is a French Hybrid with single dark purple flowers in early June that are excellent as cut flowers because of their very fine fragrance.

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Meyeri Palibin
Height:  4­-6 ft.
Spacing: 6­-8 ft.

A true slow growing dwarf. It is a small  leafed cultivar with deep purple buds opening into fragrant violet‐purple flowers in abundance early in the season.

Best Perennial Ground Covers for Zone 5a

Best Perennial Ground CoverFew gardening areas are as daunting as U.S. Department of Agriculture Zone 5a, with its winter lows reaching -20 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit and short growing season. Even Zone 4 has specific needs and techniques for successful gardening. When looking for the best perennials for these zones, you typically want to look for plants that can handle low temperatures and extreme weather.

Virginia Creeper

Hardy in zones 3-9, this great plant has five-leaflet leaves, and displays a bright scarlet-red fall color. It attaches itself to any vertical support and climbs quickly, but on flat surfaces makes a dense ground cover that discourages weeds. It grows in sun or shade, and puts out greenish-white flowers in midsummer that are followed by ornamental but poisonous blue berries.

Snow-in-Summer

This ground cover grows 6-12 inches tall, and looks like a carpet of grayish-green foliage covered with white flowers in midsummer. It thrives in zones 3-7 in full sun and can tolerate both dry and moist soil.

Stonecrops

This beautiful little plant grows well in zones 4-9, forming a 1-2 inch mat of foliage in sun or light-shade, and has golden yellow flowers in spring.

Common bearberry

It’s a hardy, prostrate shrub with intricate branching that often forms mats up to 3 feet wide, by runners. Fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers tinged with pink are borne in May and followed later in the season by red berries. The common bearberry’s stunning red stems are studded with small, glossy, evergreen leaves.

Northern maidenhair fern

Northern maidenhair fern’s curved fronds have wiry black stems that wave in the wind. This plant spreads slowly (by branching rhizomes) and eventually forms large colonies. Its delicate texture looks most beautiful when paired with broad-leaved plants.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley’s bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.