Lilacs are extremely cold resistant, and have what it takes to come through some very tough winters unharmed and gladden many hearts in spring. They are tall, upright shrubs laden with broad pointed clusters of highly perfumed, lavender flowers and green, heart-shaped leaves. There are white-flowered types, too. Plants can grow to be 12 feet wide and 15 feet high.
How to grow: Full sun is best, though lilacs will grow in partial shade. They prefer neutral soils with good drainage. Remove old trunks and unwanted suckers occasionally.
Uses: Lilacs are good accent plants, but have no special features after their mid-spring bloom. They can also be planted in a line as an informal, blooming hedge.
Related species: There are many other species of lilac -- some earlier or later bloomers and many with equally interesting perfumes. They are often used to extend the common lilac's short flowering season.
Related varieties: The so-called French hybrids are improved forms of Syringa vulgaris.
Scientific name: Syringa vulgaris