Lilacs in Spring

Have you ever experienced a bouquet of fragrance lilacs held tightly in the arms of a child to present as a gift, maybe on Mother’s Day?

Lilacs are a commonly grown, low maintenance shrub or small tree of the Northern Plains. Long abandoned farmsteads still have lilacs that bloom in early spring. Some associate the image of lilac with a strong character, perhaps a trait to be earned in challenging times.

Besides their early, fragrant blooms, the multi-stemmed woody shrub can grow close to other lilacs, forming a privacy hedge. Lavender and white lilacs in a hedgerow, as shown here, line a perimeter section of Lewis & Clark Recreation Area as campers visit the state park.


Lilacs originated in the Balkan Peninsula, grown in Europe since the 1500s, and immigrants carried shoots to the American Colonies. The multi-stemmed woody plant grows in clumps, and suckers with their roots can be shared and transplanted.

They grow best when they receive afternoon sun and have well-drained soil in areas of clay, common to this region, and hillsides provide some drainage. Lilacs tend to bloom more profusely on alternate years. Blooms may be deadheaded to encourage more blooms. Cultivars with variations in color, such as this example, are available.


Does the spring lilac fragrance or bloom jog a memory for you?

2 thoughts on “Lilacs in Spring

  1. Oh my! Lilacs would not be very popular here, except that they were popular with the Okies who came here during the Dust Bowl. Californians who appreciate them are likely descendants of Okies. I grew the French hybrids back in the 1990s, but they are not as excellent as the straight species.

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