The Q&A Archives: Lilacs

Question: I'm trying to find big fragrant lilacs like my grandmother used to grow. Where can I find seeds for them? I didn't see any listed in your online catalogue. (Maybe I was looking in the wrong place.)

Answer: Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is a large shrub that can be started from seed but is generally purchased as a 2-3 year old plant. Transplants can take up to seven years before blooming, so imagine how long you'd have to wait if you started one from seed!

To perform best, lilacs need a pronounced winter chill, which might be difficult for you to provide in your southern California garden. There are some new Descanso hybrids, tailor made for your low winter chill region. Look for 'Lavender Lady', 'Blue Boy', 'Chiffon', or 'Forrest K. Smith' at a local nursery.

If you're still convinced you want to grow a lilac from seed, seeds are available from Cyberseeds, PO Box 171102, San Antonio, TX 78217-1102.

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