Trees of Colorado: The Japanese Tree Lilac
The lilac shrub has been a favorite landscape plant in Colorado for over a hundred years. Its bushy habit and fragrant spring flowers make an attractive addition to foundation plantings year-round. Its cousin, the lilac tree, has been slower to be appreciated as a specimen planting, though.But varieties like the Ivory Silk tree lilac are rapidly gaining popularity in Denver-area landscapes.
Beautiful, Colorful Tree Great for Small Spaces
With similar characteristics to its shrubby relative, the lilac tree offers a compact, striking solution to tighter spaces where a larger flowering tree would be inappropriate.It has similar deep-green leaves to the shrub lilac, but its flowers, while not quite as fragrant, emerge in spectacular cream-white blossoms up to a foot long thatbloom later in the season after many other ornamentals have lost theirs. After flowering, the tree’s seed buds attract a variety of songbirds. In fall, its leaves turn a golden yellow, and its reddish cherry-like bark make it an attractive plant throughout the winter.
Hardy and Adaptable
Hardy to -30°F and up to 7,000 feet elevation, the Japanese tree lilac is a hardy specimen that adapts well to Colorado’s high pH soils. It’s a slow-grower with a mature height of 15-25 feet and a slightly narrower spread. It prefers well-drained soil and has only moderate water needs, but isn’t very drought-tolerant, so keep its soil moist.
Low Maintenance and Care
While lilac shrubs need a fair amount of attention, caring for a lilac tree is easy. Its strong branches maintain its shape with little pruning—simply remove damaged stems and twigs after it has dropped its flowers. Japanese lilacs are resistant to powdery mildew, scale, and borers, but can get blight and leaf spots if stressed.
If you’re considering planting Japanese lilac trees or other landscape trees and shrubs, or have ones that need maintenance, Donovan Arborists offers planting, pruning, and shearing services in the Denver area. We’re happy to give free estimates to homeowners and property managers for any services they may need.