Answer: Syringa vulgaris, the common lilac, performs reliably in zones 3-7 But in your zone 8 garden you may be disappointed with the sporatic flowering and lack of vigor you'll get from a lilac. They flower best with a pronounced winter chill, and thrive in slightly alkaline soils. Although they were bred for warm summer/low chill winters of California, some of the Descanso hybrids might be worth testing in your zone. 'Blue Boy' produces blue flowers, 'Chiffon' and 'Lavender Lady' produce fragrant lavender flowers, and 'Sylvan Beauty' has rose-lavender flowers.
You can plant shrubs and trees in either spring or autumn with equal success.
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