If you are thinking about adding shrubbery to your landscape, one of the best choices is a lilac bush.
The common lilac (Syringia Vulgaris) will flourish in Alberta’s climate. Filled with heady aroma, the flowers bloom in the spring and can be enjoyed in a cut flower arrangement or left on the tree to enhance a stroll through the garden.
Add Some Color to Your Landscape
The flowers may be single or double blooms and come in colors ranging from white, pink, and blues through lilac (of course), magentas and even violet. A single has four petals; a double has multiple sets of the same four petals. Color variants are dependant on the amount of shade, weather (cool, hot, wet, etc.) soil, and simply the overall type of year.
They are a nice, hearty plant and tolerate drought and winter cold. It is best if they are planted in an area with good soil drainage. Full sun is best, but a bit of shade won’t hurt. At least 6 hours of sun a day is best. Full shade is a disaster. They are prone to powdery mildew in the late summer, so be on the alert and treat promptly.
Planting and Maintenance Tips
Select a relatively large area since they will have a spread of 6 to 12 feet. Also look out for overhead power lines since they can reach up to 15 feet high, depending on the variety. Before planting, be sure to consult with a nursery specialist (not usually found at a big box store) or do a little research on your own. Different varieties have different qualities. It is best to prepare for the largest expanse, especially if you treat them well including appropriate watering and feeding.
Annual pruning can keep your lilac shrubs at a controllable height and girth. Cut them back after they finish blooming. While you can remove dead branches in early spring, be careful to avoid any branches that have dormant buds. After the blooms have spent, remove about one third of the largest branches.
Over time, the plant can lose its shape and become leggy or spindly. If that happens, in the fall, cut it back to about 18 inches. This will rejuvenate the bush, but be aware it may not bloom in the succeeding spring.
If it becomes overly large or thoroughly overgrown, you can severely prune it back in late winter or maybe March. The following year, decide which shoots are the healthiest and remove the rest. This will encourage new, healthy growth. The downside is that it will take three years before the wood is able to produce blooms again. So, this should be a last resort.
Overall, lilac bushes are a delightful introduction to spring, especially after a long, hard winter. They are hearty in the Calgary climate and maintenance is pretty easy.