Palibin Lilac (Tree Form)

Planting & Care for Trees/Shrubs – Lilacs


  • Lilac flowers best in full sun but tolerates light shade.
  • Choose an open site, protected from strong, drying winds, where air circulates freely, to reduce risk of leaves becoming mildewed.
  • These shrubs need well-drained, organically rich soil.
  • Avoid chalky spots, which may cause lime-induced chlorosis, when leaves turn creamy yellow and die.
  • Plant Lilacs March-November

Opening Plant Material

  • Grow Bags – Remove bag by using a utility knife to slit up the side and peel off the fabric exposing the soil and roots. Plant the root ball just like you would a container plant. No trimming of roots is necessary for grow bags.
  • Containers – Completely saturate all container plants by putting in a larger container of water until stops bubbling, remove. Now you’re ready to plant.
  • Each type of plant has an illustration on how to plant if you scroll down and click on the orange rectangular box “Handling & Plant Guidelines”.

Planting Grow Bags

  • Plant grow bags in spring or fall.
  • Notice where the base of the trunk flairs out from the tree. This is called the root flair. This root flair should show when the tree is planted. If necessary, add soil under the ball so the root flair is exposed.
  • Place fertilizer packets into the bottom of the hole (if purchased). *Use Our Recommended Fertilizer.
  • Backfill the hole with soil, making sure the top of the root ball is visible and slightly higher than the soil around it.
  • Firm the soil around the plant. Water well to settle soil around the root ball.

Planting containers

  • Slide plant from pot by tapping on the bottom of the pot.
  • Dig a hole no deeper than the depth of the container and 6″ or more, making sure it’s wider on the sides
  • With shovel or knife trim bottom 2″ off of the root ball for plants in plastic containers.
  • Rotate the plant to the proper position. Never lift or move plants by the tops.
  • Place the root ball in the hole.
  • Notice where the base of the trunk flairs out from the tree. This is called the root flair. This root flair should show when the tree is planted. If necessary, add soil under the ball so the root flair is exposed.
  • Place fertilizer packets into the bottom of the hole (if purchased). *Use Our Recommended Fertilizer.
  • Backfill the hole with soil, making sure the top of the root ball is visible and slightly higher than the soil around it.
  • Firm the soil around the plant. Water well to settle soil around the root ball.

Pruning – After Planting

  • Grow Bags & containers – Although it is not essential for grow bags or containers to be pruned after planting, a light pruning for shape, to remove any broken branches from shipping, or to thin out a heavily branched plant will help in the transplanting process and in the appearance of your new planting.

Pruning – Through-out the Season

  • Prune in November & December – Cut out spent flowers when petals fade. Keep bushes youthful and blooming freely by pruning out a quarter of the older shoots each year in winter. Remove basal suckers.

Watering – After Planting

  • Plants typically take approximately 6 weeks to establish new roots in your soil. During this period, water plants as often as every 2-4 days at the start and at least a minimum of once per week.
  • Beyond the 6 week establishment period, water once per week, unless rains occur.
  • Stick your finger into the soil around 3” to check soil moisture.

Watering – Through-out the Season

  • After the first season, plants should only be watered during extended periods without rain.
  • How do you know if your plants need water? The easiest way to tell is to touch the soil around the roots. If it is moist, there is no need to water. If it is dry, give it a good soaking with the hose end (no nozzle) watering the soil only, not the leaves.
  • Stick your finger into the soil around 3” to check soil moisture.

Go to our “Plant Features & Video Tab” for more information & tips on caring and maintaining this plant.

Growing Dwarf Lilacs – Learn About Common Dwarf Lilac Varieties

Who doesn’t like a lovely lilac bush? The soft lavender tones and the rich intoxicating scent all add up to a pretty garden accent. That being said, lilacs have an unfortunate tendency to get large and unruly, but the new types of dwarf lilac have compact forms while still giving the showiest floral show in town. Regular lilacs can grow 6 to 15 feet in height but the dwarf lilac varieties are only 4 to 5 feet and can easily fit into small gardens or even containers.

What is a Dwarf Lilac?

Space challenged gardeners, or those that prefer a tidy looking plant, will love the dwarf lilac varieties. These smaller bushes offer all the same color and scent the standard forms present with a more compact form. Dwarf lilacs are fairly new developments with the Korean dwarf one of the first to be marketed.

Syringa are old-fashioned garden classics that conjure warm spring days and crisp nights. They are one of the harbingers of summer as the whole garden begins to burst into color. Lilacs are useful as hedges,

single specimens and border plants. With their rapid growth and large forms, they provide scented screening around the property. Dwarf lilacs accept a different challenge as containers, edging and foundation plants.

What is a dwarf lilac? Dwarf lilac varieties are bred on rootstocks that promote smaller forms but still pack a big aromatic punch. They range from 4 feet to 6 feet in height with a denser frame than their standard counterparts.

Types of Dwarf Lilacs

One of the most well-known of the compact shrubs is the Korean Dwarf lilac or Meyer lilac. This diminutive plant is a neat little shrub approximately 4 feet in height and 5 feet wide. It takes shearing gracefully and produces 4-inch long panicles of dark violet flowers.

Other types include:

  • Palibin is a variety of Korean lilac that is known for its hardiness down to United States Department of Agriculture zone 3.
  • Josee, a compact lilac that may get up to 6 feet in height, is a re-bloomer with lavender-pink blooms.
  • Tinkerbelle is an early bloomer with a spicy scent and rich wine colored panicles.
  • Another plant to consider when growing dwarf lilacs is Boomerang. It has a 4- by 4-foot form and abundant blooms with smaller leaves than most lilac bushes.

Tips for Growing Dwarf Lilacs

Lilac bushes prefer northern climates and do not flower well in the south. A full sun location in well-draining soil of average fertility will produce the healthiest plant and showiest flowers.

Plant the lilac in a hole as deep as the root ball but twice as wide. New installations will require evenly moist soil until they establish and, thereafter, once per week in summer if rainfall is less than one inch.

After they bloom is the time to prune these lilacs, which flower on old wood. Remove broken wood and old canes. Cut any newer wood back to a growth node. Minimize the amount of new wood taken because it will diminish the next season’s blooms.

Dwarf lilacs are easy to care for and add old-time elegance to the landscape.

Lilac Tree | Syringa Trees

Is a Lilac a shrub or a tree? Well, it’s makes a bush shape so many people would regard that as a shrub but it also ages into a gnarled small tree reaching about 20ft in 10-20 years. So, it’s both really.

Choosing & Growing Lilac Trees

Syringa are ideal for the back of borders to bring good height to the scheme and wonderful partnered with others flowering at the same time – Laburnum, Hawthorn, or Ceanothus would be our favourites. Or you can remove the lower branches to creat a single stem tree, or carefully select just a few well-placed stems to grow on to create a beautifully balanced multi stemmed shrub. We also offer several varieties of dwarf Lilac shrub that are ideal for smaller spaces or towards the front of borders.

Syringa trees flower on old wood so the timing of pruning is important. Established plants need very little attention, but to encourage flowers on lower branches, you should cut out some of the tallest stems just after flowering (in mid-summer). As with all shrubs, dead or damages or diseased stems should be removed. On young plants, prune to create an open framework, removing crossing stems or shorten any whippy long stems.

Old, neglected, overgrown Lilac trees can withstand very hard pruning to restore them, but it does mean that there will be little to no flowering for a couple of years. Prune all stems to about one foot from ground level when the plant is fully dormant in mid-winter, but take care not to prune below the graft point. Then thin out new stems in the following dormant season leaving two or three shoots per stem.

History & Interesting Facts About Lilac Trees

The name Syringa is Latin for ‘a tube’. This is thought to be in reference to the broad pith found in some species that the Ancient Greeks used to hollow out to make reed pipes or flutes. Vulgaris is the Latin for ‘common’. The colour lilac gained its name from the shade of purple on many of the Syringa species, in particular, Syringa vulgaris. The term French Lilac refers to the modern double flower cultivars made famous by prolific breeder Victor Lemoine.

Lilac trees peaked in their appeal in the early 20th century, but have been cultivated in the UK since the 16th century. The French horticulturalists, the Lemoine family, bred over 200 cultivars – including our own Madame Lemoine variety. Lilac trees are so popular that many Lilac festivals are held throughout America. The longest running being in Rochester, New York since 1898. It is held at Highland Park and boasts the largest amount of Lilac tree varieties in one place, most having been developed there. Lilac flowers are also the state flower of New Hampshire.

Syringa trees are commonly used as a symbol of love. In Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon, Syringa represent Easter as they flower around that time.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
  • 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.


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