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Must-Have Lilacs

The Martha Stewart Show, May 2007

Lilac plants -- if well cared for -- can live a long time. Some live over one hundred years. Once established, they are drought tolerant and easy to care for. The flowers bloom on last year's wood, so prune the branches in the late spring/early summer, after the blooms fall off. Generally, bushes can grow up to 15 feet tall, though there are a few dwarf varieties that are about three feet tall. As a cut flower, lilacs don't last long in a vase (a few days at most); to prolong them, be sure to cut stems with very sharp pruners. Except for a few hybrids, lilacs enjoy cold winters -- this helps stimulate spring blooming.

Here are some of Martha's favorite varieties -- and their best features.

Lavender Lady
- Blooms profusely in all parts of the country
- Good for warm-winter locations

Avalanche
- Large clusters of single, white flowers

Sensation
- Unique two-toned blooms

President Lincoln
- Large trusses of single blue flowers

Charles Joly
- Deeply colored double blooms

Sovietskaya
- Single white blooms

Arch McKean
- Huge clusters of large florets

Primrose
- Very unique yellow color blooms
- Extremely rare

Pocahontas
- Blooms two weeks earlier than most lilacs

Little-leaf
- Blooms three times per year
- Attracts bees and butterflies