Content Detail

Chinese lilac is an upright to rounded shrub with arching branches. It is  a more finely-textured hybrid of common lilac. The highly fragrant lavender-purple flowers are long blooming and attract butterflies.

  • Family (English) Olive
  • Family (botanic) Oleaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Purple
  • Shape or form Arching, Multi-stemmed, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate


Chinese lilac grows 8 to 12 feet high and wide, sometimes up to 15 feet. Upright to rounded with arching branches, this is a more graceful, textured plant than common lilac.

Bark color and texture :

Bark is light brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Similar in shape to other lilacs, Chinese lilac has 2 to 4 inch long opposite simple leaves that are broadly elliptical and have a pointed tip. Medium green color with no significant color change in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Large, 4 to 6 inch, loose clusters of rosy-purple flowers bloom in mid-spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit are small, brown capsules.

Plant care:

Chinese lilac does best in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. Tolerant of high pH soil. Provide good air circulation to minimize powdery mildew infections Flowers on old wood, so prune after flowering. Remove the oldest stems every year to promote vigor.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances and resistance:

Susceptible to powdery mildew, aphids, and scale insects. Resistant to deer.


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