Meyer lilac

Meyer lilac, cultivar 'Palabin', in flower.

Meyer lilac is a compact shrub with highly fragrant, lavender flowers and small ruffled leaves. It is fairly resistant to powdery mildew. Place near a patio or sidewalk where the intoxicating fragrance can be enjoyed.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Syringa meyeri

All Common Names:

Meyer lilac

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Hedge,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Screen,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Mid spring,
  • Early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • Pink,
  • Purple

Shape or Form:

  • Mounded,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

More Information:

Size & form

A compact, oval shrub reaching 4 to 8 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide

Tree & Plant Care

Relatively low maintenance for a lilac
Best in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil.
Tolerant to poor, dry soil, pH and heat or drought once established.
Tolerant to aerial salt.
Prune after flowering.

Disease, pests, and problems

Flower buds emerge early in spring and can be susceptible to frost injury
More resistant to powdery mildew, except in really wet summers.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, simple leaves about 1-inch long with slightly wavy margins/ Dark green turning yellow in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Prolific, lavender to purple flowers, densely packed in 4-inch cluster. Blooms in early May. Highly fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Dry, brown  capsule persistent into winter, not showy.

Cultivars and their differences 

Palibin Dwarf lilac (Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'):  Popular in the nursery trade. A  compact, form reaching  4 to 5 feet high and 5 to 7 feet wide. Reddish buds open to whitish pink flowers. Ruffled, green leaves turn a reddish purple fall color.

Sugar Plum Fairy® lilac (Syringa 'Bailsugar'): A hybrid lilac introduced as part of the Fairytale® Series from Bailey Nursery.  A rounded, compact lilac reaching 4 to 5 feet high and wide; fragrant rosy lilac flowers, will rebloom sporadically in summer.

Tinkerbelle®lilac (Syringa 'Bailbelle'): A hybrid lilac introduced as part of the Fairytale® Series from Bailey Nursery. An upright, 5-6 feet high and 4-5 feet wide dwarf lilac with spicy fragrance and wine-red flower buds that open to pink.

Location of Syringa meyeri (Meyer lilac) at the Arboretum