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Sweet Scent

CONSIDERED AN OLD-FASHIONED PLANT, most of us have fond memories of our grandmother’s lilacs, and so they are loved and found in many gardens today. The lilac was recorded being planted in the United States as early as the mid-1700s. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington wrote of planting and caring for lilacs.

Lilacs have been so much a part of the garden that you would think they are native to the United States, but they are not. Most lilacs are native to Asia and the common lilac is native to eastern Europe.

WITH SO MANY BEAUTIFUL AND FRAGRANT LILACS, it is difficult to choose just one. There are so many varieties available, it is easy to select and plant several of your favorites. To make your decision a little easier, you might want to choose one for its flower color, smaller mature size, and resistance to powdery mildew, a problem that plagues many lilacs in the humid South. Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ is one such lilac.

THE PALIBIN LILAC GROWS ONLY 4-5 FEET TALL and 5-7 feet wide. This Korean lilac has smaller leaves than the common lilac and is very disease resistant. Flowering usually occurs in May and they have a smaller 4-inch long flower panicle. Flowers can last for one to two weeks. The flowers are light purple with a pink undertone and are softly fragrant. Plants flower profusely even when young and are an excellent choice for a large or small garden.

KNOWN TO BE EASY TO GROW, Palibin lilacs are an attractive plant even without flowers. This variety is a dense shrub and requires little or no maintenance. It is best to plant all lilacs in full sun. The Palibin lilac is a wonderful addition to the garden and can be enjoyed when planted singly, in a group, or as a hedge.

by Angie McManus

Q My hydrangea plants get black spots on the leaves. Some are in full sun and others in the shade. What can I do to prevent this?

A Black spot on hydrangeas is caused from a fungus. There are a couple of different possibilities but without seeing your plants it’s hard to say which fungus it is. The good news is that it rarely kills the plant. It does not look pretty and if left alone can spread throughout the plant, so sanitation is important to control the fungus. Watch new growth as it emerges this spring and take a sample to your county Cooperative Extension office or to a local garden center to have it identified.

Clean up all plant debris around your hydrangeas as spores can spread. Avoid overhead watering since moisture left on foliage can lead to disease issues. If you do water, do so in the morning so moisture dries before nightfall.

Good sanitation practices usually keep fungus problems in check, but if your hydrangeas are suffering from a severe outbreak, a fungicide may be applied. Removing all infected foliage and keeping the space around your shrubs clean will help prevent future spread.

Make sure your plants have enough nitrogen to maintain steady growth. A layer of mulch helps keep the moisture in, the weeds down, and in your case, will help prevent spores from bouncing back up onto your plant when it rains.

Go to, click on Home & Garden, then “Ask The Gardener.”

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