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Common Lilac

Syringa vulgaris ‘cv.’

This southeastern European shrub has been in cultivation since the mid sixteenth century, and in North America since the 1700s. Jefferson first planted lilacs at his childhood home, Shadwell, in 1767 and, later, at Monticello in 1771. An ancient clump of purple lilacs, believed to exist from Jefferson's time, stands on the northern slope of Monticello. Many horticultural forms were developed in France during the mid-nineteenth century. Its large, extremely fragrant clusters of flowers bloom in mid to late spring with colors range from deep lavender to pink and white. Today it is estimated that over four-hundred clones exist in cultivation. The following are early French hybrids still available: double red 'Charles Joly' (1896); double white 'Edith Cavell' (1916) and 'Ellen Willmott'; double lilac 'Michael Buchner' (1885); double pink 'Katherine Havemeyer' (1922); singe reddish-purple 'Monge' (1913); double blue 'President Grevy' and single lavender-blue 'President Lincoln' (1916).

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Common Lilac.
Growth Type: 
Woody Shrub
lavender pink white
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8
Location at Monticello: 
East Lawn and North Slope
Planting Conditions: 
Full Sun
Blooming History: 
May 10, 2005 to May 19, 2005April 10, 2008 to June 6, 2008April 6, 2010 to May 10, 2010April 10, 2011 to May 31, 2011March 26, 2012 to May 17, 2012April 17, 2013 to May 17, 2013May 1, 2018 to June 1, 2018April 19, 2019 to June 11, 2019April 7, 2020 to June 8, 2020April 13, 2021


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