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GardenSMART :: A Brief History of Reblooming Lilacs

A Brief History of Reblooming Lilacs

By Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®

When Proven Winners® ColorChoice® introduced Bloomerang® Syringa, it created quite the firestorm of controversy. Despite the dismay of people that thought lilacs should only herald the beginning of spring and stay green and quiet the rest of the summer, Bloomerang lilac's popularity quickly skyrocketed. But Bloomerang was not the first reblooming lilac.

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Reblooming, a.k.a. remontant, lilacs have been around for over 100 years. In 1917 Charles Sargent of the Arnold Arboretum noted that if Syringa microphylla "…keeps up its habit of flowering a second time in autumn it will be at least interesting, even if other lilacs are more beautiful." In her 1928 book "The Lilac, a Monograph" Susan McKelvey noted that S. microphylla has "…the curious habit of blooming twice in one season." Syringa 'Josee', a complex cross developed by Georges Morel, is another noted remontant lilac: It is a small-leafed, pale pink-flowered cultivar introduced in 1974 by Minier Nursery of France. More recently, Frank and Sara Moro of Select Plus International Nurseries of Quebec, Canada have introduced several reblooming cultivars.

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Nonetheless, there are a number of things that have put Bloomerang lilac in the spotlight. It's safe to say that Bloomerang is the most consistent and prolific remontant lilac to date. The initial bloom is heavy and appears in mid-May. It rests in June, and begins to rebloom in July, continuing until frost. While the summer and fall panicles are not as large as those in the spring, it still puts on a very good show. Every single branch bears flowers…and not just an occasional flower! One of the reasons for its propensity to flower is its strong growth. As long as it continues to grow, it continues to produce new flowers. A light shearing after the initial bloom results in a fuller plant with more branches and more blooms, but you don't have to prune it for rebloom.

Tim Wood, Product Development Manager at Spring Meadow Nursery, bred Bloomerang® Syringa. He spends a good deal of his time searching for new and superior plants and selects new plants based on such factors as superior performance, improved disease resistance, ease of production and culture, compact and dwarf habits, attractive foliage, and extended or multiple seasons of interest.

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"Adding lilacs to the line was a goal of mine because they offer many fine attributes that make them popular. Most notably lilacs bloom in the spring when people are in the garden center, they offer excellent hardiness, they're well recognized by consumers, they're very colorful in bloom and they offer fragrance," Wood says.

The challenge with lilacs has been that they typically offer only one season of interest and are susceptible to diseases like powdery mildew. Wood felt that Bloomerang addressed all of these issues and, as a result, it has become the popular lilac it is today.

Since the introduction of Bloomerang lilac in 2009, the series has expanded to include four varieties. Bloomerang® Dwarf Purple, Dwarf Pink, Dark Purple, and the classic Purple. This line of reblooming lilacs was bred to give people more of what they love: flowers. They bloom in spring, take a brief rest, and then start to bloom again in mid-summer. These super-hardy plants (down to USDA zone 3) shrug off tough winters, so they're a great choice for cold climate landscapes.

 


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By Proven Winners® ColorChoice®, Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®

Folks have often thought that lilacs typically herald the beginning of Spring, then stay green and quiet the rest of the year. But there are lilacs that bloom twice in one season. For an historical and informative article on the topic, click here.


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