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Chinese lilac

Chinese lilac is an upright to rounded shrub with arching branches, a more finely-textured hybrid of common lilac. The highly fragrant lavender-purple flowers are long blooming and attract butterflies.

Botanical name:

Syringa x chinensis

All common names:

Chinese lilac, Rouen lilac

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Hedge,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

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

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • mid spring,
  • late spring

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • Purple

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:


8 to 12 feet high and wide, possibly 15 feet.
Upright to rounded with arching branches.
A more graceful textured plant than common lilac.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. Tolerant of high pH soil.
Provide good air circulation to minimize powdery mildew infections
Flowers on old wood, prune after flowering.
Remove oldest stems to promote vigor.
Deer resistant.

Disease, pests, and problems

Powdery mildew, aphids, scale

Bark color and texture 

Light brown

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite; simple leaves, 2 to 4 inches long and broadly elliptical with a pointed tip.
Similar in shape to other lilacs
Medium green color with no significant color change in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large, 4 to 6 inches, loose clusters of rosy purple flowers in mid-spring

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are small, brown capsules

Location of Syringa x chinensis (Chinese lilac) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.