The Q&A Archives: mild climate lilac

Question: Hi - my mild climate lilac blooms every year - not the big blooms I grew up with but blooms nevertheless and that is great. However the blooms are not on stems per se - grwoing straight out of a major branch. Is there a way to feed the shrub or? so that the blossoms are on a longer stem and can be cut without cutting a branch - or just getting the bloom without a stem? Hope that makes sense!! Thanks, Cecelia

Answer: Descanso Lilacs, hybridized at Southern California's Descanso Gardens, were developed to bloom in very mild winter area. The Descanso provides the same abundance of showy flowers as do other lilacs.

Lilac flowers commonly have four petals, but hybridizers have also developed many double-flowered cultivars. These have more than four petals per flower, often 12 or more. Sometimes these are arranged hose-in-hose, which means there's a four-petaled flower within a four-petaled flower. Some of the newer introductions have the additional petals arranged radially -- daisy-like -- all in the same plane.

Likewise, hybridizers were so busy working on the fragrance of the Descanso hybrids that the small stems were an oversight. As a result, your lilacs will never produce those long stems that you're looking for. On the plus side, they do flower in your mild winter climate. Enjoy!

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