Syringa × hyacinthiflora
Early Flowering Lilac
Early Hybrid Lilac
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon:
- Deciduous shrub, spreading, upright when young, large, to 12 ft (3.5 m) tall, similar width. Leaves simple, alternate, broadly heart shaped, bronze when young (as in S. oblate), bronze to purplish-red in the fall. Flowers vary with cultivar, (single or double, white, pink, lavender or purple), abundant, large clusters to 13 cm long, fragrant; bloom is about a week or more before the Common Lilac.
- Sun. They are lax vigorous plants, and the RHS Dictionary of Gardening recommends that the stems be shortened by 1/3 as they do not form terminal buds and naturally fork each year.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 2 to 3. .
Syringa × hyacinthiflora hybrids were originally the result of crosses between S. oblata and S. vulgaris by Victor Lemoine (1823-1911) in 1876 in France, 'Plena', the original hybrid, has double, light violet flowers. Other hybridizers performed similar crosses.
Frank Skinner (1882-1967), Hardy Plant Nursery, Dropmore, Manitoba, Canada selected and breed plants suited to the extreme prairie climate. Skinner gained fame as a lilac hybridizer. Some of his lilacs were the result of crosses between S. oblata ssp. dilatata and S. vulgaris. His first introductions in 1932 included 'Minnehaha'; many of his lilacs are still popular including 'Pocahontas' and especially his last introduction, 'Maiden’s Blush'. His hybrids in this group are sometimes known as the Canadian Hybrid Cultivars. Skinner also developed cultivars from S. villosa × S. vulgaris crosses, which included 'Donald Wyman' (a S. × prestoniae). Walter B. Clarke (1876-1953), Clarke Nursery, San Jose, California, was successful in introducing many lilacs between 1931 and 1948, including Early Hybrids such as 'Blue Hyacinth' and 'Clarke's Giant'.
Some of the available S. × hyacinthiflora selections include (hybridizer, year of introduction)::
- 'Asessippi' - an early flowering, single, pale lavender flowers; reportedly does not get leggy (Skinner, 1932).
- 'Blanche Sweet' - flower buds are blue and open to single, whitish blue petals tinged with pink (Fiala, 1988).
- 'California Rose' - single, bright rose-pink, fragrant flowers; can grow to 10 ft (3 m) tall with a 6-ft (1.8 m) spread (Sobeck, 1966).
- 'Evangeline' - double lavender-magenta flowers (Skinner, 1934).
- 'Excel' - flowers single, pink; has a reputation of being more heat tolerant than most lilacs (Skinner, 1935).
- 'Fantasy' - flowers dark purple, double, freely produced, without the need for winter chilling (Clarke, 1960).
- 'Maiden's Blush' - single, light pink flowers; starts blooming when young (Skinner, 1966). Also listed as S. vulgaris 'Maiden's Blush'.
- 'Mount Baker' - single, white flowers (Skinner, 1961).
- 'Pocahontas' - maroon-purple buds open to single, dark violet flowers (Skinner, 1935).
- 'Royal Purple' - double, dark purple flowers(Skinner, 1965).
- 'Sierra Snow' - single, white flowers with curved petals, requires very little winter chill to overcome winter dormancy but is still very cold hardy (Lammerts, 1967)
- 'Vesper Song' - single, violet (?)
- hyacinthiflora: the name given by Lemoine to the hybrids because of the resemblance of the flowers to tiny hyacinths.