Under the lilac tree

Lilac Companion Plants – What To Plant With Lilac Bushes

Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) are striking specimen plants with their early-blooming lacy blossoms that exude a sweet perfume. You’ll find cultivars with blue, pink, purple and other color blossoms. However lovely the flowers are, the shrub’s short blooming season can be disappointing. Careful selection of lilac bush companions in the garden can help fill the gap. For tips on what to plant with lilac bushes, read on.

Lilac Companion Plants

If you are wondering what to plant with lilac bushes, you may be surprised at the large selection of lilac companion plants. Companion plants for lilac bushes are plants that either look good near lilacs, or else complement the lilacs in some way.

When it comes to companion planting with lilacs, spring-flowering bulbs are among the top choices for many gardeners. They make a natural

choice to plant as companions plants for lilac bushes because they bloom at the same time.

You’ll find many attractive spring bulbs to fill up the area near your lilac bush as lilac companion plants. Bulb plants like daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinth and peonies multiply and naturalize. Plant enough of them and you’ll never weed in the area again.

Additional Lilac Bush Companions

Are you wondering what to plant with lilac bushes to extend the floriation? You can use other lilac bushes to great advantage. While in yesteryear, all lilacs bloomed in spring, these days you can find cultivars that bloom at different periods. Pick shrubs that blossom at different times so that you can have several months of lilacs instead of only several weeks.

Alternatively, you can select other flowering shrubs or small trees. Weigela works well, but so do the following:

  • Mock orange
  • Flowering crabapples
  • Dogwoods
  • Flowering cherries
  • Magnolias

Placed beside each other in your backyard, they make a fabulous spring display.

For more adventurous companion planting with lilacs, allow your lilac tree to serve as a trellis for light vines. If you plant a lightweight vine like clematis, it can scale your lilac without hurting it. The great advantage is that clematis blooms after a spring-flowering lilac is already done.

Lilac bushes also make good trellises for passionflower vines, like maypop. Maypop also blooms after the lilac blossoms have faded—large, fringed flowers—and, later, grows attractive, edible fruit.

Everything about the color Lilac

What color is lilac?

Lilac is a soft, pale shade of purple. The lilac hex code is #C8A2C8.

Like all shades of purple, lilac is made by mixing red and blue. Adding a bit of white paint will lighten the shade to create lilac’s pastel hue.

Are lilac and lavender the same color?

Lilac and lavender are two different colors. They are both pale shades of purple but lilac has a pink tint to it, while lavender has a blue tint.

On the hex color chart used by web designers and designers, lilac and lavender are noticeably different. Colloquially, however, the two colors are considered very similar and the names are sometimes used interchangeably. Part of the reason for this is that people tend to associate lavender with the color of a lavender flower, which is much closer in appearance to lilac than its web color. The lavender hex code is #E6E6FA.

Is lilac a cool or warm color?

Despite its subdued appearance, lilac is actually a warm color.

On the color wheel, reds, oranges and yellows are considered “warm” while blues and greens are considered “cool”. Purple is the meeting point on the color wheel between warm red and cool blue, which means that reddish purples are warm and blueish purples are cool. Lilac’s pink tint puts it towards the warm end of the wheel.

Lavender, however, is a cool color – because of its blue undertones.

The history of lilac

The name “lilac” was first used in 1775. It takes its name from the color of lilac flowers.

In the past, lilac has been associated with mourning. In nineteenth-century Britain, it was one of the few shades it was considered appropriate for a woman to wear towards the end of her mourning period when black was no longer required.

Lilac is a shade of purple, a color that has a regal history. Prior to 1856, purple dye was very expensive and that made it a coveted shade associated with wealth and power. It’s said that under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England in the 16th century, only close relatives of the royal family were permitted to wear purple. Similarly, Julius Caesar decreed that only he could wear a purple toga. Byzantine emperors also wore purple and the shade was even favored by Russian empress Catherine the Great.

Since around 2014, lilac has enjoyed a resurgence in fashion and design. Fashion magazines like Vogue and Harpers Bazaar declared lilac “the color of 2018”.

The meaning of lilac

Lilac is considered a feminine, graceful color. Its connection with flowers means it’s often associated with romance and affection. Like other pastel shades, it can conjure innocence, youth or nostalgia.

As well as being associated with religion and royalty, shades of purple are also strongly linked with creativity – Prince and Jimi Hendrix were both big fans of the hue. In recent years, purple has been used as the color of feminist and LGBTQI movements. However, as a distinctly softer shade, lilac is less likely to have these connotations.

According to color psychology, lilac is considered a soothing color that can encourage emotional expression.

What color goes with lilac?

Lilac is a gentle, versatile color. For a bright palette, you could contrast it with colors like orange, yellow, olive green and gray. But it also looks great with analogous shades of purple, or alongside a soft pink.

Lilac’s delicate appearance means it works wonderfully in situations where you want to convey a sense of femininity or calm. Its current popularity means lilac can also be a great choice for cool, contemporary designs – pair it with white to keep it fun and fresh.

The colors that pair well with lilac include:

  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Olive green
  • Gray
  • White
  • Rose quartz

Similar colors to lilac

Looking for a different hue? The following colors are related to lilac.

  • Mauve
  • Lavender
  • Violet
  • Purple
  • Periwinkle
  • Magenta

Lilac Color Schemes – Lilac Color Palettes

Lilac Color Combinations


The Combo Library contains pages of lilac color combinations (a.k.a, color schemes and color palettes) for you to choose from. Each color scheme contains the html color codes you will need when coding your website template. The hex codes can be found underneath each of the color swatches.

Click on a color combinations name to test it out. This link will take you to the Combo Tester, where you can view a larger version of each color palette.

The Combo Library provides a convenient way to search lilac color schemes. If you are looking for colour schemes with particular color codes, simply enter those html colors into the search box. For example, entering #FFFFFF will narrow down the list to only combinations containing the color white.

You can click on individual hex color codes to view them full screen through the Combo Tester. On the Combo Tester page you can use the ‘Get the Image’ dropdown option in order to grab the lilac color swatch.

Lilac Bush Sizes

Lilac fiower image by Olga Guseva from <a href=’http://www.fotolia.com’>Fotolia.com</a>

Lilac bush sizes range from short shrubs to tall “small tree” varieties. Among the many species and cultivars of the lilac bush, differing heights allow you to choose and utilize lilacs in your home garden according to your particular needs. From a low-growing 4 feet to a tall 25 feet, familiarize yourself with size categories, including varying spreads, when choosing a lilac for your garden.


Lilac bush sizes depend on species and then cultivars within that species. Palabin lilacs (Syringa meyeri) are slow-growing bushes with a round shape, dense foliage and purple-violet flowers. Chinese lilacs (Syringa chinensis) are spreading shrubs with arched branches and fragrant purple/lilac flowers. Manchurian lilacs (Syringa patula) originate in Korea and display dense foliage growth and lilac/purple blossoms. Japanese tree lilacs (Syringa reticulata) are more tree-like and display white blooms. Chinese lilac trees (Syringa pekinensis) are also considered trees rather than shrubs and produce cream-hued flowers. Common or French lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) are the most widely planted lilac bushes, with leaves in the shape of a heart and a variety of colors, from white to purple.

Small Bushes

The palibin lilac is a smaller lilac bush variety, reaching a mature height and spread of 4 to 8 feet, though the spread may surpass the height. Manchurian lilac bushes, as well, are small, reaching a height of 5 to 8 feet and a width of 4 to 5 feet, according to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Smaller lilac bushes are well suited for use as ground cover in the garden.

Medium Bushes

Medium lilac bushes include the Chinese lilac bush, which grows to a height of 8 to 15 feet, with a spreading habit and fragrant flowers. The common lilac or French lilac has a variable height, depending upon variety; with extremely aromatic flowers, this shrub reaches a height of 8 to 20 feet, with a width of 6 to 12 feet. Common lilacs have an extensive array of cultivar options to suit your garden’s size needs, according to the University of Illinois Extension HortAnswers. Medium shrubs are widely planted for use as hedges.

Tall Bushes

Tall lilac bushes are also referred to as “small trees” instead of shrubs. These taller varieties include Japanese tree lilacs, which grow to a height of 25 feet and a width of 20 feet; this bush is resistant to both borer pests and scale diseases. Chinese lilac trees are also tall, reaching a height of approximately 15 to 20 feet, with a spread of 18 feet. These lilacs are well-suited for use as solitary trees or shaped, large shrubs suitable as screens.

Care Requirements

For proper growth of lilac bushes, follow appropriate care requirements. Plants only reach their full height and width when kept vigorous. Lilac bushes thrive in full sun and prefer moist, well-drained soil high in organic content, according to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Along with stunted growth, improper maintenance may result in poor flowering as well as greater susceptibility to problems like lilac borer pests or scale disease.

Kansas Forest Service


Syringa vulgaris, or Lilac, is native to Southeast Europe and probably has been cultivated since the mid-1500’s. It’s not native to Kansas.

Mature Size
In Kansas it grows to a height of 8 to 12 feet with a spread of 6 to 10 feet.

Growth Rate
Once established, it grows at about 12 to 18 inches per year with a slow to moderate growth rate.

Leaves, Stems and Fruit
Leaves are borne two at a location on opposite sides of the twig. They are gray-green to dark blue-green. Fruit is a dry capsule and not especially attractive. It is an attractive plant with large fragrant clusters of purple blossoms.

Windbreaks – Lilac forms a good shrub row in windbreaks and in single row screens. Its low, dense growth provides good ground level wind protection. Blossoms add beauty to plantings.

Wildlife Habitat – Lilac is generally under-rated for use in wildlife habitat. Its suckers provide quality cover for numerous birds and animals. The fruit, however, has little benefit for wildlife.

Adaptation and Soil
Lilac has adapted statewide and is planted throughout Kansas on a wide range of soils. It tolerates both extreme dry and wet conditions reasonably well.
Lilac is spaced 4 to 6 feet apart.

One-year-old, bare-root seedlings (10 to 14 inches tall) are used in conservation plantings. Lilac is very drought tolerant. It is very tough and long-lived. Sucker sprouts produced from roots allow the plant to slowly increase in diameter. During the establishment period, supplemental watering and control of competing vegetation will aid survival and early growth.

Lilac usually continues to function even if common pests, such as lilac borer, powdery mildew and oystershell scale are not controlled.

Soil Information
Average Height in 20 Yrs:
-Eastern 8-10 ft.
-Central 8-10 ft.
-Western 6-8 ft.
Growth Rate: Slow
Native Species: Introduced to Kansas
Windbreak Value: High
Wildlife Value: Medium
Lumber Products: No
Fuelwood Products: No
Drought Tolerance: High
Texture: 1,2,3
Soil Saturation: No Tolerance
Salinity Tolerance: Low Tolerance
pH Range: 5.8-7.8

Reblooming lilacs: The hype and the reality

Treasured for their gorgeous, lush blooms and incredibly intoxicating fragrance, lilacs are a longtime garden favorite, dating back to the mid-1700s when both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew them in their gardens.

A sentimental spring garden favorite of mine, the modestly named common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) has been the one bush I couldn’t imagine not growing. Treasured for their big, flamboyant, oh-so-fragrant panicles of trumpet-shaped blossoms, lilacs are fairly carefree plants, often living for decades in the landscapes.

Some of my tried-and-true favorites, plants that enchanted generations of gardeners before me, include ‘Charles Joly’, a very prolific, very fragrant wine-red double flowered beauty; ‘Sensation’, dark red-purple blossoms edged in white; and ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (Syringa vulgaris ‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’), a stunning beauty with double white flowers.

A newcomer to my garden, primarily because yellow-colored blossoms are an oddity in the lilac family, is the only yellow-flowered lilac (actually more like a very pale almost creamy yellow), ‘Primrose’.

Finding a lilac blooming in fall

I admit that I fancy the oddities of the plant world. So I can’t help but notice when reading current gardening magazines, the numerous ads for the “new reblooming ‘Josee’ lilac”. A reblooming lilac! But as one of my garden club friends put it …“Is there such a thing as a reblooming lilac?”

From my personal experience, I can say: Reblooming? Yes. New? No …and yes!

I acquired my first ‘Josee’ lilac some 17 or 18 years ago, while visiting a childhood friend in Canada. Plant nuts that we were (and still are), we spent our days traipsing through nurseries, until that fateful day when, without any great expectations, we stopped at a nursery specializing in lilacs. Nosing around, we were instantly attracted by a familiar, heady sweet fragrance that could only be given off by a lilac bush in full bloom.

Yet it was September, so how was this possible? Laughing, we joked that it must be one of our beloved grandmothers, both staunch fans of lilac perfume, who surely had just passed this way.

Following our noses around a corner, we stood – amazed and dumb-founded – eyeball to lavender-pink blossoms with ‘Josee’ in full, magnificent bloom.

She was covered top to bottom in hundreds of short trusses of blowsy flowers, that not only delighted our senses but, obviously, those of the myriad of butterflies flitting about, as well. They were as smitten with the plant as we were.

We must have been a sight, standing there, mouths gapping, staring at what seemed to be, for lack of a better explanation, a horticultural miracle.

There is no other way to describe that encounter. It was lust at first sight!

I could hardly wait to get ‘Josee’ back home to the western suburbs of Chicago, envisioning drinking in the heady fragrance of the bush on hot summer days, and basking in the beauty of vases full of gorgeous lilac blooms in fall. Oh, wasn’t I going to be the envy of the neighborhood?

Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out quite that way.

What I expected, what the cultural tag promised me, was a four-to-six-foot bush with tons of big, indispensable sweet-scented blossoms early in the spring on the first flush of bloom, followed by sporadic blooms throughout summer, and one more major flush when the weather cooled.

What I got was a dwarf lilac of fragrant but small, lavender-pink flowers in spring – in the nearly two decades that I’ve enjoyed ‘Josee’, only twice has she rewarded me with a truly sizeable flush of fall blossoms.

As for summer … apparently, she never read the same tag as I did, for she’s never given me more than a few sporadic flowers here and there during our incredibly hot, muggy dog days of summer.

In those first few years, I would call my friend in Canada to compare notes. In July, she described the sweet fragrance of the blossoms as she gardened under the shrub (while I drooled with envy), and in September, she gloated with one-upmanship as she picked enough stems for bouquets.

Was my ‘Josee’ lacking somehow? I asked myself. She seemed to have settled in, looked healthy, grew several inches each year, so where were the myriad of promised blossoms?

But if truth be told, I should have known better.

Like most lilacs, ‘Josee’ thrives in cool weather. So in the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, New England, and Canada (and other locales with reasonably cool summers) she will put on a magnificent show, reblooming three – even four times – during a growing season.

But here in the Midwest, our muggy, hot days and nights just put her in a funk.

I did eventually purchase another bush, planting it closer to the house where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Though I now accept the fact that there will be no strong waftings of that heady scent in summer, I treasure the few sporadic blossoms she puts forth during those rare cool(er) summers.

The new kid on the block

However, there is a “new” reblooming lilac on the market these days: ’Bloomerang’ purple lilac (Syringa ‘Penda’) from Proven Winners.

I have only one year’s worth of experience with this still-small plant, but so far, so good.

Unlike ‘Josee’, which needs to be pruned after flowering, ‘Bloomerang’ does not. What blossoms I had last year were bigger and deeper in color than ‘Josee’ and, thankfully, produced more blossoms in late summer, which continued until frost.

So, as ‘Bloomerang’ matures, maybe I will finally be rewarded with those longed-for armloads full of fragrant, blowsy lilac stems every fall!

Betty Earl, the Intrepid Gardener, blogs regularly at Diggin’ It. She’s the author of ‘In Search of Great Plants: The Insider’s Guide to the Best Plants in the Midwest.’ She also writes a regular column for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine and The Kankakee Journal and numerous articles for Small Gardens Magazine, American Nurseryman, Nature’s Garden, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as other national magazines. She is a garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens and a regional representative for The Garden Conservancy. To read more by Betty, .

Last Updated on June 24, 2019

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Are you wondering about lilacs and landscaping? We have five or six lilac trees on our property. They’ve been here for years and I love the color and the scent of our lilacs each year. Before you plant a lilac tree or decide to make it a focal point of your landscaping, there are a few things that you need to consider.

Table of Contents

Lilacs and Landscaping

There are a number of different types of lilacs that range in color from pale to dark purple and even white. In the northeast, their color is unmistakable and it is one of the first flowering trees to bloom. Since we have a lilac tree right outside our front door, I can enjoy the scent for the entire time our lilacs are in bloom.

Lilac varieties

When choosing your lilac, you want to keep in mind what zone you’re in. There are lilac varieties that are suitable for zone 3 through zone 9. The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) typically hardy to zone 3 and is the variety that we have the most of. There are dwarf varieties and a wider range of colors like yellow that may not be as hardy. Please do your research carefully to ensure the variety you plant will be with you for years to come.

Landscaping around lilac bushes

Remember that lilacs can grow to be up to 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide if not larger depending on the variety you have chosen. You don’t want to landscape too closely to the tree unless you plan to prune it regularly to keep it smaller. Otherwise, anything you plant too close to the lilac will soon be overtaken.

When landscaping around lilac bushes, please keep in mind the size of the lilac in the future. This means that you should be careful when planting your lilac near your house, shed, fences or other permanent structures.

Companion plants for lilacs

So, what should you plant around your lilac? There are several companion plants for lilacs to consider. Spring flower bulbs make a wonderful choice as companion plants. They will naturalize relatively quickly which will help keep the weeds down. And, they provide spring color before your lilac blooms. Options include lily of the valley, tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinth.

Landscaping with lilacs ideas

The Korean Lilac is a smaller variety of lilac tree that is ideal for small gardens. You can easily create a garden with a Korean lilac in the center surrounded by plants like Columbine, Phlox, and Meadow Rue. This combination should be relatively low maintenance and is perfect for attracting butterflies.

Try grouping several lilac varieties together to stagger bloom times. Our common lilac blooms much earlier than our white lilac. By staggering your bloom times, you’ll be able to extend the color in your lilac garden much longer.

Are lilacs a bush or a tree?

I’ve seen this question several times. The answer is that it depends. The definition of a tree is that it stands over 13 feet tall and has a single trunk. While there are varieties that grow over 13 feet tall, lilacs have many trunks unless you prune them otherwise. Technically, lilacs are a bush. Check out the video above for some handy tips on how to prune a lilac. I admit that I often simply let ours grow wild. Since we’re in the country, that works well for our yard.

Are lilacs poisonous?

As a pet mom, I worry about what plants and trees I add to our property. Many different growing things are poisonous to cats and dogs. But, luckily lilacs are not poisonous to animals. I’ve never eaten them myself. But, if your pet wants to nibble on them, no worries.

Lilacs and landscaping can work well together if you keep in mind the eventual size of your lilac tree. Don’t be afraid to be creative and add a sundial, garden bench or even a fountain if you have the room.

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Ellen is a busy mom of a 22-year-old son and 27-year-old daughter. She owns 5 blogs and is addicted to social media. She believes that it doesn’t have to be difficult to lead a healthy life. She shares simple healthy living tips to show busy women how to lead fulfilling lives. If you’d like to work together, email [email protected]rkedmom.com to chat.

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