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Spring is a great time of the year! One of the first plants to bloom in the spring is the Lilac. The many different types of lilacs provide many choices to use on your acreage. Lilacs do take some care, but it is fairly minimal, and worth all of the effort when you get that wonderful scent and color early in the spring.

Lilac is a wonderful shrub that can grow anywhere from 4-20 feet tall, depending on the variety you choose. Lilacs have opposite leaves that are usually heart-shaped, about 2-5 inches long. Lilacs are most commonly known for their amazing, sweetly scented flowers that are set on in the spring, typically around May-June.

Syringa vulgaris, Common lilac, is most often grown in Nebraska. It grows up to 15 feet tall and wide with blooms in May. There are many different cultivars of this form for many color choices of the flowers. Meyer Lilac or Dwarf Korean Lilac, Syringa meyer, is another common lilac choice, for those who want a smaller version. Meyer lilac only grows up to 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide. If you want to extend your season of lilac blooming, plant either the common or meyer lilac with late lilac, Syringa villosa, which blooms in late May or early June and grows up to 7 feet tall and wide. To get lilacs for a very large area, plant Japanese tree lilac, Syringa reticulata, which grows up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Other species choices of lilacs and many cultivars will give you the right color, size, form, and scent to fit your acreage perfectly.

Lilacs are commonly used as specimen plants, in groupings, or as a border in the landscape. They can be placed in many locations on your acreage or in town. Typically, lilacs can adapt to most sites in your landscape, however, they do not tolerate poor drainage or high, prolonged heat. Plant lilacs in full sun because they may get powdery mildew in a shady site. Lilacs commonly suffer from borers and scale insects, but they can be treated with insecticides effectively.

There are many ways to prune your lilac - each should be done in the spring of the year, after the plant has flowered for the year. You can prune it back in size by a few inches each year, and you can select branches or portions of branches that need pruned out annually as well. With annual pruning, you will only need to prune a few branches each year to maintain the size and shape you desire. If your lilac gets old and starts to produce less leaves and flowers, it may need rejuvenation pruning, which can be done in ways. One way is to prune 1/3 of the plant each year for 3 years, focusing on the largest stems each time. When pruning these, cut them out at ground level. After 3 years you will have removed all the older stems. The second rejuvenation pruning is to cut the entire plant down to only a few inches from the ground and it will have all new growth, making it more productive.

Lilacs have been treasured for their beautifully scented flowers in the spring of the year. Many people use the flowers for cut flowers around their homes. Lilac flowers have been used for a long time in aromatherapy with the belief that lilac flowers can calm a person's nerves. According to Washington State University, the word lilac is derived from a word meaning "pipe" because the center of the stems can be hollowed out to make a pipe. These pipes were used by shepherds.

The lilac is a very beautiful shrub or small tree, with very sweetly scented flowers. Many people use these plants throughout their landscape, on an acreage or otherwise. Lilacs take very little care to grow well. There are many different species and cultivars to choose from to find the perfect plant for your landscape. For more information on lilacs in Nebraska, view the Lilac NebGuide.

Nicole Stoner

Nicole Stoner, University of Nebraska Extension, tells us of plants to consider for acreages. They may provide interesting colors, textures, or scents. This month's plant provides all three.