Fragrant Showy Lilacs

    • Prepare for planting season! Turn in cover crops and do a soil test if your garden had trouble last year.
    • Summer flower bulbs can be planted now. Choose from gladiolus, dahlias, begonias, lilies and more.
    • Plant sunflowers now from seed or plants. Choose either the multi-stemmed kinds for cut flowers or the giants for edible seeds.
    • Plant artichokes now. Fill a hole with one part humus and two parts soil and set out plants in full or part sun.
    • Spring feeding of trees and shrubs can begin now. Mulch with manure or apply fish emulsion or commercial fertilizers.

Fragrant Showy Lilacs

One of the joys of spring is the appearance of fragrant sprays of lilacs all over town. This old-fashioned favorite is always a welcome sight and a sign that spring has arrived.

Lilacs are known and loved for their beautiful blossoms, legendary fragrance, and heart-shaped leaves They prefer a climate with plenty of winter chill and they do very well here, blooming in April in Willits. Full-grown shrubs can reach 12-15 feet.

Lilacs require at least 4 to 6 hours of sun daily for good flower production and good drainage. Space plants 5-8 feet apart for hedges, and farther apart for specimen plants. Once they are established, they need minimal watering in the summer. They are heavy feeders and need a good 10-10-10 garden fertilizer in early spring and after flowering. Failure to bloom can be caused by a lack of fertilizer.

Since lilacs bloom on old wood, prune immediately after blooming to shape plants and remove spent flower clusters. Remove a few of the oldest stems each year by cutting them back to the ground. This will keep the plant growing vigorously.

A mass planting of lilacs will produce a very showy effect. The colors are complementary, so mix and match as you desire. They make excellent screens, background plants and tall hedges.

There are many wonderful varieties on the market, from the common lilac to the French hybrids in all shades of pink, purple and white. The common lilac with its single lavender flowers is the most fragrant purple lilac of all.

The French Hybrid Lilacs are most noted for their bloom size and fragrance. They were the work of Victor Lemoine, a French hybridizer, who bred about 200 different lilacs in the 1870’s. Following are descriptions of some of the nicest hybrids.

Katherine Havemeyer — Large, lavender-purple, double buds open to soft lilac pink. The florets have wide petals that are twisted and irregular, giving a slight double effect to the fragrant flowers.

Krasavitsa Moskvy (Beauty of Moscow) — The unusually large double flowers resemble pink pearls in bud, and open to pure white. Delightfully fragrant, the clusters are excellent for cutting. Extremely hardy and weather resistant, this lilac has a long blooming period.

Ludwig Spaeth — This very old variety is still one of the best of the reddish-purple flowering lilacs. The deep flower color is irresistible, and the very large trusses of fragrant single blossoms come late in the season.

Sensation — One of the most spectacular of all the lilacs, its single blossoms are wine red, edged with white. Borne in tall trusses that have a silvery luster, this fragrant beauty will be a show piece in any garden.

When Jack Frost is nipping the morning air, remember that he’s the reason we can grow beautiful lilacs in Willits.

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