Reblooming Lilac

Is There Really A Reblooming Lilac?

Lilacs bushes are old favorites, and the very thought of a reblooming lilac would seem like having your cake and eating it too. We wait in the spring for the lilac bushes to bloom and give off their wonderful fragrance. As they reach their peak, we experience a tinge of sadness, knowing that the blossoms will soon turn brown, and in a week or two both the blossoms and their fragrance will again be history. Then, it's a wait of another 11 months, until the blooms reappear.

Recently, there has come onto the market, not one, but two reblooming lilac plants. Both are described as dwarf varieties, reaching about 4' in height, although one of the reblooming lilac varieties may reach 6' in height. They are advertised to bloom from spring, when most varieties of lilac bloom, until first frost. And, both varieties give you that pleasing lilac fragrance that you now can enjoy throughout the summer months!

The Josee - The "Josee" reblooming lilac is a perennial that is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 9. The blossoms are panicles of trumpet-shaped lavender-pink flowers 4" to 6" long. Hummingbirds and butterflies will visit the blossoms often, and they make good cut flowers, something not all varieties of lilacs do. The foliage is typical of the lilac plant with the leaves being dark green, and heart-shaped or ovate. The Josee is a hybrid which was developed by crossing 3 other lilac species. It will be at its best when planted in full sun and can be planted as a specimen or, if plants are spaced about 4' apart, will make an attractive hedgerow. Most gardeners who have tried this variety are very happy with it, though there are some complaints that the price is still rather high, not unusual for a recently introduced variety.

The Boomerang - A second variety is the "Boomerang" which grows to 4', so is a bit shorter than is the Josee. It is nearly, though not quite, as hardy, performing best in USDA zone 4-9. The blossoms of the Boomerang reblooming lilac are purple-pink. Like the Josee, it is a fine plant either as a specimen, or as a border planting or a hedge. Like the Josee, Boomerang is also rather expensive, with a single potted plant (5" or 6" pot) costing in the neighborhood of $20.

A Summer Siesta - Like most lilacs, these dwarf reblooming lilacs are long-lived, perhaps lasting a lifetime. One note regarding the Josee variety. In very hot climates it may not bloom throughout the summer, as it usually will do in more temperate zones. Don't be disheartened however, as after the initial spring period of bloom; it may start reblooming in early autumn once temperatures have begun to cool a bit. There's no information available as to whether this is true of the Boomerang as well. In any event you should get reblooming at some point, making these lilacs very nice additions to the garden, particularly to the smaller garden where they tend to fit in well.

Deadhead And Prune - For any lilac bush it's good practice to deadhead the blossoms once they've faded and turned brown. This is also the best time to do some light pruning and shaping, as there is less risk of cutting off branches that might otherwise have next year's blooms. The same holds true for the reblooming lilac varieties, though you can often wait until blooming has ceased entirely before getting on with the pruning chores. Pruning should consist of trimming back a few branches to a leaf node to encourage new branch growth, and removing suckers and shoots. Lilac bushes will benefit from having some of the interior branches and stalks removed from time to time. Leave 3 to 4 healthy stalks on the plant at any one time, and the bush should both hold its shape and provide a profusion of blossoms.

Starting Again From Scratch - Another pruning approach is to cut the bush back to ground level. This is not normally done unless you are dissatisfied with the general shape or performance of your plant. Cutting it all the way back is simply a means of starting over. Work with 2 or 3 of the newly emerging shoots to shape your rejuvenated plant, which may take 2 or even 3 years before you begin seeing blossoms. Such severe pruning won't kill the plant. Lilacs are pretty tough customers in that regard, even the reblooming lilac varieties.