Syringa pubescens subsp. microphylla

Common Name: lilac 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Oleaceae
Native Range: Western China
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Lilac-pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but best bloom quality and disease resistance occur in full sun. Prefers rich, moist, neutral soils. Foliage needs good air circulation. Prompt removal of faded flower panicles before seed set will increase bloom for the following year. Prune as needed immediately after flowering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Syringa pubescens subsp. microphylla, commonly known as littleleaf lilac, is a dense, compact, mounded, spreading, deciduous, small-leaved shrub that grows to 6-7’ tall and to 12’ wide. Single, sweetly fragrant, lilac-pink flowers arranged in dense clusters (panicles to 4” long) bloom in May (St. Louis area). Elliptic to ovate, medium green leaves (to 2” long) are slightly hairy below. Synonymous with S. microphylla.

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 downy or hairy.


Littleleaf lilac is susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot and blight. Stem borer, scale and leaf miner are occasional insect pests.


Although spectacular when in full bloom, lilacs are otherwise somewhat ordinary shrubs. May be grown as specimens or massed. Also effective as privacy screens or hedges. Good for shrub borders or background for perennial borders. Foundations.