Preston Lilac (Syringa 'James MacFarlane') in the Lilacs Database

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Moderately alkaline (7.9 – 8.4)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 2 -45.6 °C (-50 °F) to -42.8 °C (-45°F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 7a
Plant Height: 10-12 feet
Plant Spread: 4-8 feet
Leaves: Deciduous
Flowers: Showy
Fragrant
Blooms on old wood
Flower Color: Pink
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Guardian plant
Cut Flower
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Birds
Butterflies
Containers: Not suitable for containers

Long lasting bloom on the plant.

Photo gallery:
Location: Denver Metro CODate: 2015-06-02Long lasting bloom on the plant.
By Skiekitty
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Location: Denver Metro CODate: 2014-04-23Pre-bloom of this particular lilac.
By Skiekitty
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Location: ILDate: 2010-05-07
By molanic
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2019-06-16three shrubs close together after bloom
By ILPARW
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Location: Denver Metro CODate: 2012-05-10new plant this year
By Skiekitty
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Location: Denver Metro CODate: 2013-04-26Shows the long leaf rather than the heart-shaped leaf most lilacs
By Skiekitty
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Location: Denver Metro CODate: 2013-04-26Closeup of unopened flower panicles
By Skiekitty
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2019-06-16summer foliage and some spent flowers
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2019-06-16looking inside shrubs at stems
By ILPARW
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Comments:
Posted by Skiekitty (Denver Metro - Zone 5a) on Jun 5, 2015 11:16 PM

This is a very late blooming lilac. All the French lilacs had already finished blooming when this cultivar finally started to bloom. The blooms are very long lasting on the plant, not sure about cut. Very spicy smelling, almost clove-like. Tiger Swallowtail butterflies seem to enjoy it.

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Posted by Skiekitty (Denver Metro - Zone 5a) on Apr 14, 2014 12:35 PM

A "Chinese" lilac. The leaves are very different from a French lilac. Not as woody a plant, either. Flowers are much smaller and not as fragrant. Leaves here are elongated and lighter in color, definitely not leathery or heartshaped. Seems to survive zone 5 winters with minimal protection, though.

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Jun 16, 2019 7:41 PM

In the 1920's and later a certain Isabelle Preston did a whole lot of hybridizing of lilacs in Ottawa, Canada. The Preston hybrids are usually the cross of the Late Lilac (S. villosa) x the Nodding Lilac (S. reflexa), both Chinese species with the hybrid looking more like the Late Lilac species. The cross is Syringa x prestoniae. However, she also did some crosses with the Hungarian Lilac from central & southern Europe (S. josikaea) x the Nodding Lilac (S. reflexa) to produce S. x josiflexa that is also called a Preston Hybrid. One source says this later cross brought about this James MacFarlane cultivar while other sources say it was the first and more common cross with the Late Lilac. I only occasionally see one of these later blooming lilacs, that bloom 2 to 3 weeks later than the Common Lilac, in average yards in the Midwest or Eastern US; and usually it is James MacFarlane as being the most common cultivar. I sold a few James MacFarlane Lilacs back in the Chicago ,IL, area in the 1980's at two different nurseries. These crosses and the straight species of these lilacs do not have really good fragrance in their flowers like the Common Lilac.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Syringa Photo by KatieEshraghi Jul 17, 2018 4:03 PM 0
Anyone want to send me some rain? by Skiekitty Jul 14, 2011 5:27 PM 106

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