When Northerners move to the South, there's no doubt about the plant they mourn the most -- their beloved lilac. Lilacs just don't bloom here due to our short, mild winters. But now I hear a new lilac is blooming well all the way down to the Gulf Coast! Could this be true?
The lilac is a recent introduction from Proven Winners called 'Bloomerang.' It comes in two colors -- light purple and dark purple. Reader Tom Barger from Houston, Texas wrote to tell me that his three-year old 'Bloomerang' "exploded with blooms" this spring. Lilacs seldom bloom well in USDA Zone 8. Tom lives in Zone 9.
This is not Tom's house, but the photo above of the light purple 'Bloomerang' gives you an idea of the plant's shape and size. It eventually grows 4 to 5 feet tall and wide in the garden, but you can also grow it in a container. Tom reports that the flowers are fragrant, but not as highly perfumed as those of old-fashioned lilacs.
This is the dark-purple version. You pays yer money, you takes yer choice.
Hype vs Reality When 'Bloomerang' first appeared, not only were nurseries touting it for its ability to bloom in the Deep South, but many also labeled it "everblooming." They said this because under the right conditions, 'Bloomerang' may bloom again in summer and fall. A few observations:
1. 'Bloomerang' lilac is no more everblooming in the South than 'Endless Summer' hydrangea is. You may get a second, lesser blooming later in the year, but the only way 'Bloomerang' is going to be everblooming is if it's growing in a nursery pot and watered and fed all the time, so that's it's constantly growing. I presume your garden is not a nursery.
2. Don't expect great things from 'Bloomerang' right away. Give it three years in your garden to get its roots down and your hopes up before it does its thing.
More Blooming Facts 'Bloomerang' likes the same growing conditions as other lilacs. Give it full sun and moist, fertile, well-drained soil that's moderately acid to moderately alkaline (about pH 6.5 to 7.2). Do any pruning immediately after the main spring bloom. Deer pretty much leave lilacs alone.
Other lilacs besides 'Bloomerang' bloom well in the South. Check out a previous Grumpy post, "Is the South Too Hot for Lilacs?" for more info on this. Tom reports his 'Blue Skies' lilac blooms well in Houston and says it's more fragrant than 'Bloomerang.'