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 known for producing copious amounts of gorgeous blooms once in mid-May and in July until the first frost.
Newer hybrids produce more and bigger flowers in a vast array of exciting colors.
In fact, there are 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.
The versatile dwarf Korean lilac provides 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, the dwarf lilac is the perfect choice as:
- Border shrubs
- Container plants
- Stand-alone accent
- Small standard tree form
Though dwarf Korean lilac shrubs can grow to a little over a mature height of 6′ feet, their growth is slow. They remain under four feet tall with an attractive mounded shape for several years.
- Dwarf Korean Lilac Quick Growing Guide:
- Where Did Korean Dwarf Lilac Originate?
- What Does The Korean Dwarf Lilac Look Like?
- Dwarf Korean Lilac Quick Care Tips
- Dwarf Korean Lilac Tree Care
- Is The Dwarf Korean Lilac Hard To Grow?
- Pruning Dwarf Korean Lilac Trees Is Optional
- Do You Have To Deadhead Lilacs?
- Dwarf Korean Lilac Resists Pests and Disease
- Fertilize Lightly or Not At All
- Varieties Of Dwarf Korean Lilac Shrub
- Why Choose Dwarf Korean Lilacs?
They make an excellent small-space choice for a period of time. Pruning helps control growth. [source]
Dwarf Korean Lilac Quick Growing Guide:
Origin: China and Japan
Common Names: Lilac, Palibin
Uses: Hedge, Container, Specimen plant
Height: 6’to 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 in fall color.
Dwarf Korean Lilac Care Requirements: Full sun (minimum 6 hours per day), keep soil on the medium to dry side, low maintenance, pruning is optional. If deadheading, prune after the 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 dwarf Korean lilac tree came to North 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 The Korean Dwarf Lilac Look Like?
The Syringa meyeri plant grows to a maximum of 7′ feet high and can spread up to 5′ feet at maturity; therefore, it is thought of as a small shrub.
Moreover, this plant usually has a rounded form and notable ornamental features.
Flowers vary in shades of pinkish lavender to lilac to purple and appear at the ends of the branches.
The plant’s dark green deciduous 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 Bushes in full bloom.
In the autumn, the green, small pointy leaves transition to a lovely shade of yellow, and then they fall, revealing attractive, dark brown limbs and stems.
Dwarf Korean Lilac Quick Care Tips
- Botanical Tips: Botanical Name: Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’
Common Name(s): Dwarf Korean Lilac, Palibin
Family & Origin: Oleaceae family, native to China and Japan
Growability: Easy to grow
Grow Zone: USDA zones 3-7
Size: 6-7’ feet tall and wide
Flowering: Blooms in late spring to early summer with fragrant, lavender-pink flowers
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Humidity: Average humidity
Temperature: Hardy in cold temperatures
Soil: Well-draining, slightly acidic soil
Water: Regular watering, but avoid overwatering
Fertilizer: Fertilize in early spring with a balanced fertilizer
Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to powdery mildew and lilac borer
Propagation: Propagate through softwood cuttings in early summer or hardwood cuttings in late fall
Plant Uses: Used as a border plant, in mass plantings, or as a specimen plant in a garden. Can also be used for cut flowers.
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 sunlight. However, these plants are adaptable to various pH levels and soil types and can do well in wetter locales.
Naturally, to keep your dwarf Korean lilac shrub at its healthiest and encourage enthusiastic blooming, it is best to plant it in an ideal location.
In addition, make sure to provide full sun or partial shade locations with regular watering. It’s also important to give a moderate water amount during the first growing season.
If you’re uncertain about your watering, you can decide based on soil moisture.
Is The Dwarf Korean 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.
Dwarf Korean Lilac is quite adaptable and can grow in moist locations.
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 in 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 controls 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 Korean Lilac shrub, that’s alright. These plants maintain their shape nicely and can simply be left to naturalize into the environment.
Related: Tips on Pruning Dwarf 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 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 the 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 is planted in a location where it will receive a minimum of 6 hours of full sun 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 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 Syringa meyeri, 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.
Full sun, fresh air, and good drainage will go far to keep your dwarf Korean Lilac shrub healthy and happy.
Pruning surrounding trees to increase sunlight and air circulation is also recommended as a 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 Korean Lilac Shrub
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 that produces blossoms earlier than other varieties, making it 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 that 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 4′ feet.
- Palibin is a very hardy Korean lilac. It can do well even in USDA hardiness zone 3.
Why Choose Dwarf Korean Lilacs?
This versatile, cheery, deciduous shrub is 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. However, they thrive in large containers.
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. It’s also highly tolerant of inner city conditions and urban pollution.
Moreover, Dwarf Korean plants make excellent specimen plants, mass plantings, or low hedges due to their landscape attributes. They also make lovely accent plants in a mixed border in your smaller garden.