Dwarf Korean Lilac: Attractive Easy Care Fragrant Shrub

The Dwarf Korean Lilac – Syringa meyeri – a hardy flowering deciduous shrub adding grace, fragrance and beauty to a garden.

Lilac shrubs of all sorts are loved by gardeners the world over.

Traditional varieties of these hardy, enthusiastic plants are well-known for producing copious amounts of gorgeous blooms. Now newer hybrids produce more and bigger flowers in a vast array of exciting colors.

In fact, there are so many desirable choices in colors and forms these days that choosing can put gardeners in a quandary. One good solution to the lilac dilemma is to go with dwarf varieties.

flowering tree form of the dwarf Korean lilac

Versatile dwarf Korean lilacs provide lots of good options in a small and compact form. With its pretty, fragrant purple flower spikes (excellent fragrant plant for the garden) and well-shaped, carefree growing habits, dwarf lilacs are the perfect choice as:

  • Border shrubs
  • Container plants
  • Stand-alone accent
  • Small standard tree form

… make the dwarf lilac an excellent “featured” patio or landscape plant. It also makes an excellent focal point for a butterfly and hummingbird garden.

Even though dwarf lilacs can grow to be a little over six feet, their growth is slow. They remain under four feet tall with an attractive mounded shape for several years, so they make an excellent small-space choice for quite some time. It is quite easy to control growth with pruning. [source]

Dwarf Korean Lilac Quick Growing Guide:

Family: Oleaceae

Origin: China and Japan

Common Names: Lilac, Palibin

Uses: Hedge, Container, Specimen plant

Height: 6-7 feet

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-7

Flowers: Showy and fragrant

Foliage: Pointy leaves transition from burgundy in spring to dark green foliage in summer to yellow fall color.

Dwarf Korean Lilac Care Requirements: Full sun (minimum 6 hours daily), keep soil on the medium to dry side, very-low maintenance, pruning is optional. If deadheading prune after first bloom to encourage more blooms. Pruning at the end of the blooming season (April to May) supports more blossoms in the coming year.

Miscellaneous: Miniature Lilac Bush is a set-it-and-forget-it shrub, drought tolerant, deer and pest resistant and useful for areas where erosion is a problem. It is great for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Rabbits may nibble your plants, so rabbit fencing is recommended. [source]

Where Did Korean Dwarf Lilac Originate?

The Korean Dwarf lilac tree came to America from China in 1909.

It was introduced to the west by Frank Meyer, who was the first westerner to cultivate it.

For this reason, the plant’s botanical name (Syringa meyeri) honors him. He imported the shrub from China to the US by sending cuttings home.

This, in itself, is a tribute to the hardiness of this shrub, as transportation in those days was slow and somewhat unreliable, yet the cuttings managed to survive and thrive.

What Does Korean Dwarf Lilac Look Like?

The plant grows to a maximum of seven feet high and can spread up to five feet; therefore, it is thought of as a small shrub. Flowers vary in shades of pinkish lavender to lilac to purple.

The plant’s foliage is a deep, attractive shade of burgundy in the springtime and transitions to dark green through the growing season.

These small, cheery bushes are covered with blossoms when they bloom from early May to late June. Here is a video of a lovely stand of Dwarf Korean Lilac Bush in full bloom.

In the autumn, the green leaves transition to a lovely shade of yellow and then they fall revealing attractive, dark brown limbs and stems.

All-in-all, Miss Kim is a lilac bush that adds interest and beauty to your landscape all year round.

Dwarf Korean Lilac Tree Care

Purchase your new lilac bush early in the springtime and get it into the ground right away.

Ideally, you should select a location with well-drained soil and full sun. However, these plants are adaptable to various pH levels and soil types and can do well in wetter locales.

Naturally, to keep your dwarf lilac at its healthiest and encourage enthusiastic blooming, it is best to plant it in an ideal location.

Is The Dwarf Lilac Hard To Grow?

Just as with any newly planted shrub, you’ll want to baby it along a bit until it is well-established. Once established, you can mostly just enjoy it.

These plants are remarkably rugged, easy to grow and easy to care for. They are highly adaptable and versatile and do equally well in a wide variety of landscape applications, including:

  • General garden use
  • Outdoor container
  • Accent plant
  • Low hedge

Because they are slow growing, they can do very well in a limited area or a container for several years.

Since their ultimate size is not exceptionally large, transplanting to a more spacious setting is not difficult. Annual pruning with help control the size.

Pruning Dwarf Korean Lilac Trees Is Optional

When pruning your dwarf lilac bush, wait until it finishes blooming. Richly fragrant flowers appear in abundance late in the springtime after the plant becomes fully established.

Because lilacs flower on last year’s growth, do not prune your plants before winter. Instead, prune only in the springtime after the first flush of flowers finishes. This may spur a second bloom.

Although standard lilacs may take up to five years to bloom, dwarves such as Miss Kim (Syringa patula), Preston (Syringa x prestoniae) and dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri) may flower within the first couple of years.

If you don’t want to prune your dwarf lilac, that’s alright. These plants maintain their shape nicely and can simply be left to naturalize into the environment.

Tips on Pruning Lilacs Back

Do You Have To Deadhead Lilacs?

You don’t have to deadhead lilacs, but spent blossoms are a bit unattractive. Removing the first flush may stimulate more flowers. Removing the second flush will make bushes more attractive throughout the rest of the growing season.

It also prevents the development of seed pods. Of course, as with any other flowering plant, deadheading helps the shrub make the best use of its energy.

When you remove the second flush of spent blossoms, your shrub will be able to create more flower buds and will to bloom more profusely in the coming season.

When you do deadhead your lilacs, take care to snip just below the flower cluster and above the uppermost leaves. [source]

Dwarf Korean Lilac Resists Pests and Disease

These small, hardy lilacs resist most common lilac maladies, such as lilac borers and powdery mildew. This is especially true of plants provided with optimum care.

Your lilac would do best if it planted in a location where it will receive a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily. The best soil is airy and well-draining.

Although dwarf lilac varieties are resistant to powdery mildew fungus, poor planting locations or excessive crowding can encourage the growth of this fungus (which exhibits as a white, powdery coating on the leaves).

An ideal location with full sun and good drainage will help prevent this problem.

If you do find powdery mildew on your dwarf lilacs, don’t panic. It is more unsightly than harmful. Pruning to admit more air circulation may help discourage it, but the best cure is prevention.

Sunlight, fresh air, and good drainage will go far to keep your dwarf lilacs healthy and happy.

Pruning surrounding trees to increase sunlight and air circulation is also recommended as way of providing your shrubs with a healthy environment.

Taking good care of your lilac bush as it establishes itself will help guarantee good performance. Give it a couple of inches of organic mulch every spring to help hold in moisture, discourage weeds and nourish the soil.

Fertilize Lightly or Not At All

Mulch may be all the fertilizer your lilac bush needs. Soil too rich may inhibit flowering. If you want to add fertilizer, give plants a half dose, once, early in the springtime. Excessive fertilizing will result in lots of leaves and few (if any) flowers.

Varieties Of Dwarf Lilac

Korean Dwarf Lilac is one of the most familiar and popular varieties. However, there are several dwarf varieties to choose from and you can certainly mix and match if you wish.

Here are some of the other pretty and popular varieties you may wish to try:

  • Tinkerbelle is a very fragrant lilac which produces blossoms earlier than other varieties, making it is a nice addition for continuous blooming, with its deep lilac-purple flowers with a rich, spicy scent.
  • Miss Kim is a more upright dwarf variety producing single blossoms in shades of pale blue to lavender. [source]
  • Josee is a reblooming lilac which produces an abundance of pinkish-lavender blooms, and it almost always blooms twice.
  • Bloomerang lilac is extra small and compact with a maximum height and width of four feet.
  • Palibin is a very hardy Korean lilac. It can do well even in USDA hardiness zone 3.

Why Choose Dwarf Korean Lilacs?

These versatile, cheery shrubs are easy to grow and care for. They can grow from cuttings or seedlings with equal ease.

Dwarf varieties are far more dense and compact than their full-sized counterparts and require far less maintenance.

They tend to keep an attractive, rounded shape with little or no pruning and provide year-round interest with seasonal color changes in foliage, luscious scent, riotous color in springtime and interesting limbs, twigs and bark through the winter months.

The Korean Lilac flowers in late spring, spreading its delightful fragrance throughout the garden. Resistant to many of the ills such as powdery mildew and lilac borers, it is one of the most versatile among flowering shrubs.

Images: BrighterBlooms.com