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Dwarf Korean Lilac: a Better Lilac Bush Where Size Matters

Virtues: We love dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri 'Palibin') for its compact, rounded shape and resistance to powdery mildew, two characteristics that set it apart from other lilacs. Dwarf Korean lilac fits small gardens, tight spaces and can be used as a deciduous hedge. Good choice for a foundation planting as it won't obscure windows.

dwarf korean lilac syringa meyeri palibin

Common name: Dwarf Korean lilac, dwarf Meyer lilac, 'Palibin' lilac

Botanical name:Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'

Flowers: Dwarf Korean lilac flowers heavily in mid- to late spring, with dense clusters of tiny tubular pink flowers. The flowers buds are a handsome purple, making this lilac bush attractive just before it blooms, too. Lilac is very fragrant. This lilac species begins blooming at a young age.

Foliage: Small, glossy dark green deciduous leaves. The leaves are much smaller and cleaner than those of other lilacs bushes. Fall foliage color is nondistinct. While other lilacs are susceptible to powdery mildew, dwarf Korean lilac is usually not affected by it.

Habit: This lilac is a deciduous shrub with a rounded shape. Generally it grows 4 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide, making it much smaller and denser than other lilac bushes, such as the common lilac, which can grow over 15 feet tall and become gangly. Dwarf Korean lilac can also be purchased grafted to a tree trunk, in which case it tops out at about 8 feet tall with a rounded head of foliage and spring flowers.

Season: Late spring, for its flowers. Dwarf Korean lilac makes a good summer background bush when not in bloom.

Origin: Selection of a lilac species that's native to northern China and Japan.

Cultivation: Grow dwarf Korean lilac in full sun or part shade and average soil. It likes regular watering but will tolerate drought once established. Feed with a general fertilizer before new growth begins in spring. Remove spent flower heads to promote better bloom in the next year. Prune dwarf Korean lilac, if necessary, just after it flowers. Dwarf Korean lilac is hardy in USDA Zones 3–7.

Read about Bloomerang lilac, another small lilac bush.

Image courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

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