Syringa × chinensis 'Red Rothomagensis'

Common Name: Chinese lilac 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Oleaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 12.00 to 16.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Reddish purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer


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 to slightly alkaline soils with good drainage. Needs good air circulation. Good tolerance for urban conditions. Prompt removal of faded flower panicles before seed set will increase the bloom in the following year. Prune as needed immediately after flowering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Syringa × chinensis, commonly called Chinese lilac or Rouen lilac, is a cross between Syringa vulgaris (common lilac native to southern Europe) and Syringa persica (Persian lilac native to Persia now Iran). It is a spreading, multi-trunked, deciduous shrub with arching branches which typically grows 8-12’ (less frequently to 15’) tall. It was reportedly first discovered in Rouen, France in 1777. The leaves and flowers of Chinese lilac resemble those of Persian lilac, but the erect growth and abundance of flowers most resembles those of common lilac. Airy pyramidal inflorescences (4-6" long) of very fragrant rose purple flowers bloom in mid-May. Flowers are followed by brown dehiscent capsules which persist on the shrub well into winter. Opposite, simple, ovate-lanceolate leaves (to 3" long) are medium to dark green. Foliage typically loses sharpness with the onset of powdery mildew in summer. No fall color.

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 from China in reference to a mistaken but once held belief that this shrub was native to China.

'Red Rothomagensis' is a naturally sterile deciduous shrub that is cloned to use in the USA-NPN (National Phenology Network) study to determine the effects of climate in different locations on the phenology or seasonal changes of genetically identical plants. It has opposite, simple, ovate-lanceolate leaves (to 3" long) that, in contrast to the broad leaves of the common lilac, are about twice as long as wide. Its tiny, reddish-purple flowers are grouped into showy, fragrant, terminal, long clusters. 'Red Rothomagensis' grows 12 to 16 feet tall and 8 to 12 ft. wide.


Foliage regularly becomes infected with powdery mildew by late summer. Leaf-roll necrosis may occur. Potential insect visitors include aphids, caterpillars and scale. Flower buds are susceptible to frost injury in early spring.


Effective as a specimen or massed. Shrub borders, foundations. Good screen or informal hedge for property lines.