Before I start comparing the Dwarf Korean Lilac to other lilacs, it might be helpful to take a look at common lilac.
Common lilac is a mid-spring blooming shrub, growing to about 7 ft tall, with almost heart shaped leaves about 2 inches long. About the size of a silver dollar, maybe a bit more. The leaves have a nice blue-green tone and smooth texture. It is a classic used in many heritage gardens, as it can take a variety of soils, light conditions, and neglect and still triumph. It’s outstanding characteristic has always been it’s blooms, though.
Lilac blooms, a popular sachet ingredient, are a pale purple loose cone-shaped cluster, with a strong scent. One cluster, brought indoors, can fragrance a room. Unlike some other strongly scented flowers, it doesn’t seem to cause headaches, and is almost universally appreciated. Butterflies love it.
It’s shape is 1/2 vase, 1/2 mound, with some arching to the branches. It provides a great tall privacy hedge or windbreak. That slight arch allows for pet tunnels – spots where animals or kids like to hide out and rest. If completely ignored, and in the right conditions, these can take up more of the surrounding space in a couple decades, though suckers. Mine has stayed in the same spot without wandering for 30+ years, though. It gets only dappled shade. It doesn’t have much fall color, so is a 2 season shrub.
The common lilac is somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew, and has been known to be juglone sensitive. That being said, ours is living nicely under a black walnut tree (juglone producing tree). It is slightly uphill from the trunk, but definitely within the canopy of the tree. The powdery mildew doesn’t really bother me, as I don’t have any other susceptible plants nearby.
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The Dwarf Korean Lilac
The Dwarf Korean Lilac has the wonderful flowers, shape, and general leaf style of the common lilac, but everything is smaller. The leaves are more round, and about the size of a dime or nickel. The bloom clusters are smaller, but there are more of them, covering the tree top to bottom. Ours is in dappled shade, getting maybe 2 hrs of direct sun, and still covered in blooms. The color is a touch lighter, and the blooms appear about 2 weeks after the common lilac is finished.
As with many dwarfs, this is a very slow growing shrub. After about 10 years (bought as a tiny twig), it maxed out at about 6 ft. It doesn’t arch like the common one, having more of a globe shape, but the bottom part stays clear and open. That makes it excellent for planting annuals/perennials underneath. It can be ignored without getting out of hand, or needing pruning.
The butterflies seem to like this one more than the common lilac. One of the rare times I saw a hummingbird moth was at this lilac. That alone was almost worth having this bush, once I realized that the mutant sized thing was an insect and wasn’t harmful.
The dwarf lilac resists the powdery mildew much better than the common lilac, despite being right next to each other. Animals leave it alone, and I rarely see any insect damage. In fact, it has gone for years without being trimmed or fertilized and still gets compliments.
This is more of a 3 season shrub, as it also has some fall color. The leave turn from the blue-green, to a reddish tint.
Like the common lilac, it is also said to be sensitive to juglone. Ours has spent 20 years in the dappled shade under a black walnut. It is also slightly uphill, but no special treatment has been given to it. Other than the slow growth taking quite a while to see results, I see few disadvantages.
Dwarf Korean Lilac can be bought here – LILAC ‘DWARF KOREAN’ / 3 gallon Potted
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