Fragrant purple or bluish Lilac tree


Hello, our back garden in the city faces East and gets 1/2 day sun. Our home reno over last 2 years destroyed our very old sick dear lilac tree. I want to put in a lovely new lilac that won’t be fully shading the tiny garden 12′ x 15′. Fragrance is priority 1. What do you suggest? What is the best of year to put in a baby lilac or should we buy a bigger tree?


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Sorry to hear that your favorite lilac has died.

There is only one true lilac tree, the Japanese Tree Lilac, Syringa reticulata, but it has white flowers and is too large for your space – it will grow to 20 to 25 feet.

Most lilacs are shrubs. If you want a small lilac tree, you will need to look for a plant labelled “standard”. These are lilac shrubs that have been grafted onto a tree trunk.

Lilacs like full sun. They will tolerate some shade, but produce fewer blooms.

For your small space, a standard version of the dwarf Korean lilac called Syringa meyeri, ‘Palibin’ might work. These lilacs have very fragrant purple flowers and grow up to 7 feet tall.

I would buy a smaller tree as they establish better when transplanted than larger trees.

Spring is a good time to plant a new tree. This guide, Planting a Tree for Life: A Toronto Master Gardeners  Guide tells you how to plant a tree properly.

Good luck with your new tree.