Mixing Lilacs

MsKitty31(4)March 14, 2013

I have a large section of yard that is filled with the old fashion lilacs. This past year we did a total rejuvenation and cut them all down to about 6 inches. Extreme and scary but they needed it badly. Anyway, I was thinking about widening or elongating this section of lilacs with more lilacs and I was curious about other varieties. I know very little about other kinds and just wanted some advice on whether there are certain varieties that would go better with my old fashion lilacs. I thought about just adding the white form of old fashion lilacs - not very creative I know. I wasn't sure if I should get some that bloom at different times. Also, I felt that maybe they should all have the same mature size - not sure. Anyone have pictures of mixed varieties together?

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I'd add something entirely different in front, something shorter that would give a different season of interest. Possibilities are endless.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:41AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


I thought about just adding the white form of old fashion lilacs - not very creative I know.

==>>> thats an understatement.. lol ...

are you talking about paying for them??? ... i knock on doors at bloom time.. and ask to dig suckers ... i have the white.. the lilac.. the deep purple ... pink??? .. we lost ALL bloom last year.. due to early heat wave followed by intense freezing.. so its been two years since i have seen my plants in bloom ....

i did buy the variegated one.. at least you get some entertainment on the variegated leaves for the other 50 weeks of the year ...

i also have the ... and i am being too lazy to look them up.. the asain/japenese/chinese [i dont remember lol.. its been a long hard winter] ... a very different lacier-type flower.. same with leaves.. but the plant ends up about the same size.. only have that in a lilac color ...

i also have the picote [sp?]dark purple with white edge .. 'sensation' i think ... very nice ...

i have never had any luck with yellow flowered .. i think there is one of those ... skip it... unless you like the challenge ....

i have one dwarf that supposed to rebloom ... its OK as a half pint version of the monsters ...... but rebloom.. for me.. is not much to write home about ... though it is still a rather young plant ....

anyway.. to just add some white ones.. well.. you can do better ... [oh.. i have single flowered white.. and a double flowered white.. the latter of which is much more intense in scent .. its listed at the link.. well a double white.. i dug mine from the neighbors yard] ....

hindsight is 20/20 .. had you asked.. i would have suggested that you either ONLY cut down half your plants.. or half of each plant.. to enjoy half the blooms this spring .. and then would have suggested after such.. you cut them the rest of the way down .... but thats water under the bridge ... i fully understand.. you do what you do.. when you can .. but keep in mind.. that the usual rule.. is to prune flowering shrubs.. just after enjoying the show ...

see link for options ... on the market ... they would be very easy to mail order ....

oh.. i also have one that some might call red ... though it might just be a redder purple ...

if you really enjoy them.. and have the space.. enable yourself.. and get something really out there.. do NOT rely on bigboxstore.. just another white.. to fulfill your dreams ...

if you cant tell.. lol .... i too have the space.. and REALLY.. REALLY like lilac ..


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:43AM
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We lost all bloom last year as well. Here's hoping it doesn't do the same this year.

I hadn't thought of going to neighbors and asking for suckers although one neighbor did say we could have a bunch of hers but I am assuming they are the old fashion lilacs that I already have. I don't know if I have ever really seen many yards with lilacs other than those. We are all very non-creative...haha! I'm just assuming I will have to buy them if they are a different variety.

Our lilacs are so old...were...that you can't tell one bush from another...it's like a huge lilac bush but I really like it that way. That is why I wasn't sure if throwing a different variety within would look odd. As long as they are relatively the same mature height I would think it would be like a big fragrant bouquet!..ha!

I noticed that I had weeds growing underneath my lilacs. My plan is to keep pulling them out now while I can get to them with the lilacs short. Do you have issues with this?

There are so many kinds I won't be able to decide!!!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:44AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i use round up all over.. i try not to shoot the suckers.. that might be bad ...

you have to knock on doors.. when the plant is in bloom.. to know you are getting something different ...

and yours arent blooming this year ....


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Hahahahahaha I forgot - you are right ours are not blooming this year!!!! Prolly not for the next 3 or 4. But we do have a small patch on the opposite side of the house that I think might bloom this year - they went through the rejuvenation in 2010 - ha!

I will try scoping out new lilacs in others' yards.

You actually spray roundup under the lilacs? I was afraid something like that would hurt the lilacs too? I am not really familiar with using chemicals. Do you get the ready mixed kind with the wand or just the small spray bottle and squirt the weeds here and there?

How do I manage these new suckers? Do I just let them go or should I cut back some? Do I encourage branching and how do I do that?

This post was edited by MsKitty31 on Fri, Mar 15, 13 at 15:21

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:17PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the trick to spraying RU is VERY LOW PRESSURE ... and BIG DROPS ... so you hit what you want.. and there is no drift .. i mix my own ... RU become inert on contact with soil ... and it will not affect bark.. it is only potent on green .... and i have been known to use a paint brush in tight spaces..

most likely.. you could just plant suckers.. mulch heavy.. and try to keep them damp all year ...

i have found.. potting them up.. in a couple inches of media.. and putting them in full shade.. near the water spigot.. helps me not kill them.. then i plant them in fall ... on 5 acres.. i kinda forget.. in august.. where i put all the plants that need TLC.. so keeping it potted until it grows some real roots.. and planting in cool fall.. really helps ...


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:08PM
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I think your lilacs would look great with peonies, hydrangeas and/or spiraeas for a variety of spring and summer blooming shrubs. Sprinkle liberally with perennials, add annuals along edges and stir gently to incorporate. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 5:19PM
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And I really love hydrangeas and peonies! Thx for suggestion.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 3:56AM
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Below is a link to a photo of several varieties of lilac planted together (not mine.) I know that both the Holden Arboretum in northeast OH and the Arnold Arboretum in the Boston MA area have mixed plantings of lilacs that are pretty stunning every spring. If there is an arboretum near you, they may also have a similar collection.

Here's the web address of another photo of a planting of mixed lilacs:

Another way to add a longer season of interest to lilac shrubs in addition to planting lower growing plants in front is to plant clematis next to the lilacs. I have a clematis planted a few feet away from one of my lilacs. I initially used a bamboo stake to guide the clematis over to the lilac, and now it climbs happily into the lilac and adds another season of bloom.

I'd also be REALLY leery of using Round Up near lilacs. Because they sucker, it would be easy to get some on the leaves of a small sucker that you hadn't noticed, and since they are connected to the main plant, while it wouldn't probably kill a large lilac, it would contribute to it not thriving. I wouldn't want to take the chance.

Here is a link that might be useful: mixed lilac varieties

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:58AM
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I forgot to add that I agree with the idea of using mulch (you can put corrugated cardboard under the mulch to block light) to help keep the weeds down.

This post was edited by nhbabs on Thu, Mar 21, 13 at 21:10

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:13PM
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I do like the mixed look. I couldn't imagine mixing varieties would look bad. Thank you for the pictures.

Clematis are beautiful. Before we cut this hedge back I noticed there was a big wild(?) grape vine in with the lilacs and it really wasn't helping them any. It came out but I know I will have to watch for it this Spring again. I know Clematis leaves are not nearly as big as grape (of the clematis I've seen anyway) so I guess the Clematis doesn't interfere with you lilacs too much then? Also, I don't think the clematis' dry vine is as strong and big as the grape vine.

One more thing, I have yet to use cardboard but have heard of the idea. It doesn't have to be corrugated though, right?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 7:23PM
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Ken or anyone....have any experience with Lilac Sunday or Beauty of Moscow??? I am in zone 4 with heavy snow some winters - like this one - and I have read Moscow is weather resistant. Wasn't sure about Sunday - I know it is for my zone - but it looks like it has a weeping habit???

1 Like    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 12:52PM
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The cardboard doesn't have to be corrugated, but boxes from shipping or the grocery store are easiest to come by for me. You don't want to use coated paper, like what 12 packs of cans of soda come in since it doesn't break down well. I think maybe the ink has plastic in it.

How successful growing a clematis into your lilacs would be would depend on the type of clematis. One of the monster-sized clematis like sweet autumn clematis wouldn't be a good choice, but one that is in the same height range as the lilac and doesn't have a reputation for being aggressive would work. Type 1 and 2 clematis don't need heavy pruning so that the dead vines will be in your plants in the winter, but type 3's get hard pruned to a couple of sets of buds per stem during the winter, so you don't have to worry about the dead vines cluttering up the look of the leafless shrubs. If you decide to do this, when you find a clematis you like, ask about its size on the clematis forum here at GW. A good place to look up info on specific clematis is Clematis on the Web. You can also search for plants by flower color, height, pruning group, sun needs, etc.

The lilac I have a clematis growing into has no problems with supporting the clematis. They have been growing together for perhaps 5 years and both seem quite happy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clematis on the Web

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:37PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

You don't want to use coated paper, like what 12 packs of cans of soda come in since it doesn't break down well. I think maybe the ink has plastic in it.

==>>> another way to say it is.. no paper with shiny printing.. as in the sunday magazine inserts.. and things.. as noted like pop/beer boxes ...

paper is wood.. in a new form.. shiny ink is not ... think of it that way ...

5 or 6 layers of newsprint is the same as cardboard ...

all you are doing.. is insuring no sun get to the soil surface for a season ....

of my collection.. only 'sensation' is named ... the rest are shared un-named plants ...


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:39AM
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Thanks for the great clematis link.

My sister has used the newspaper/cardboard method when she is starting new gardens. I might try it as both are easy to come by for me as well.

I am thinking a lot of people in my area won't have the different varieties, like I mentioned before, but I am not sure I will be able to find too many at local plant sellers either. I'll just have to wait and see. I'd rather buy plants locally instead of through a magazine or what-not because the plant is already up and big - whereas it's hard to ship a 3 foot tall lilac. I have come across some sellers through the mail that ship great live plants though.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 9:50AM
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tulips101(5a sterling il.)

I also like lilacs but i only have a few different kinds of the shorter ones and i ha10 of them in a row by a fence on the west side of my house.Would it be to crowded to plant some pinky winky in the space between them there is 4 feet apart or should i remove some of the smallest lilacs i have already ordered the hydrangeas.Thank you.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:08AM
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I love Pinky Winkys and they are on my list to get this year!

I think Pinkys can get fairly tall and I don't know if 4 feet is wide enough between them and lilacs. But i am no expert - someone else will chime in.

I think I am realizing the lilacs I want - President Lincoln, Beauty of Moscow or Miss Ellen whillmott, Edwards J. Gardner might be hard to come by bc they are popular.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:24AM
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Chris_MI(z5 MI)

if you feel awful about asking others for shoots of their lilacs, go to a local farmer's market, and see if they have any for sale, usually cheaper than a nursery. Or if the sell just has some shrubs, ask if they have any lilacs-and talk loudly, so other sellers can hear you request, they may stop you and offer some that they have. If asking a neighbor for some shoots, be sure to have a shovel and some plastic bags with you--and you do the work of digging them up.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:07PM
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rigelcaj(z5 VT)

Another possibility for getting shoots is to post a note on Craigslist. I filled the truck with lilacs to start my hedge this way - free for the digging. These are common purples - to which I'm adding single whites here and there from shoots I got from a friend - so I'm not one to call your project boring. ;) I have other areas in bloom at other seasons.

I do have some named lilacs - a sensation, which is very pretty but not very fragrant, a maiden's blush which is pink and smells great, and some little guys I bought for $10 a pop at a local nursery in July a couple of years ago. They may still have tags, but don't have shoots yet, I think. I'd happily share shoots of the others if I saw a note on CL - or with you, if you're local, especially since I've been on the receiving end in the past. Bet others would say the same.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 9:17AM
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MsKitty - I (thought I) bought two Beauty of Moscow last spring here in Oregon. After both plants almost failed repotting last year due to my inexperience with soils, I'm happy to report that both of them are blooming quite well at their young age. One of them seems to be the Pochahontis variety I had years ago, as it's lilac-colored and beautifully fragranced.

The Beauty of Moscow flowers stems seem to be lightly drooping, though at this point are more erect than not. With the warmth of the sun, their fragrance is outstanding, even though the buds only started opening today. The bush isn't quite as full as the lilac-colored plant, though it looks like it wants to grow more branches, but I'm not sure if those buds are for next year.

The evening aroma of both combined is intoxicating!

I look forward to next year's flower yield!

    Bookmark   last Thursday at 5:39PM
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