Syringa reticulata subsp. amurensis
Common Name: Amur lilac
Type: Tree
Family: Oleaceae
Native Range: Manchuria
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but best bloom is in full sun. Prefers organically rich, moist, slightly acidic soils with good drainage. Needs good air circulation. Good tolerance for urban conditions. To the extent practicable, promptly remove faded flower panicles before seed set. Prune as needed immediately after flowering. Best grown in cool summer climates, and not recommended for planting in the deep South below USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Syringa reticulata is a tree lilac that typically grows as a small tree or large shrub. In tree form, it typically grows to as much as 30’ tall and 20’ wide with an oval-rounded crown. Its best ornamental feature is its showy, fragrant, creamy white flowers that bloom in upright panicles to 12” long in late spring to early summer (later than most other lilac species). Some gardeners dislike the privet-like smell of the flowers. Flowers give way to loose clusters of brown capsules that persist into winter. Reddish-brown peeling bark is attractive on younger branches, gradually turning gray with age. Sharply tipped, lanceolate to ovate, dark green leaves (to 6” long). No fall color.

Subsp. amurensis (formerly known as Syringa reticulata var. mandschurica) is a large shrub or small tree that is native to wooded areas on slopes, valleys and grasslands in northeast China, Siberia and Korea. It is commonly called Amur lilac. It typically grows in a multi-stemmed form to 6-8’ (less frequently to 12') tall with arching branches and ovate, taper-pointed green leaves (to 2-4" long). Showy, fragrant, white flowers bloom in large panicles in mid-spring (May-June). Flowers give way to loose clusters of brown capsules that persist into winter. Mature bark exfoliates to showcase chestnut-brown inner bark. No fall color of significance. The Amur River serves as the border between Russia and China for about 1000 miles with plants of this subspecies being native to that area.

Genus name comes from the Greek word syrinx meaning tube or pipe in reference to the pith-filled but easily-hollowed stems of some genus plants.

Specific epithet means netted-veined in reference to the leaf veins.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. It reportedly has good resistance to some of the major pests of lilacs, such as powdery mildew, scale and borers. It has some susceptibility to additional diseases including blights, leaf spots, wilt and ring spot virus. Additional insect pests of note include caterpillars and leaf miner. Flower buds are susceptible to frost injury in early spring.

Garden Uses

Effective as a specimen or in small groups in the landscape in lawns, near decks/patios, shrub borders or in foundations. May be used as a screen along property lines.