zones 3 to 8
I would recommend that your sister visit some reputable garden centers in
her area - NOT places like Wal-Mart. They would know what grows well in the
area and can sell her an appropriate plant. They will also be able to give
advice on selecting a planting site, and in most cases can plant the shrub
for her. Georgia covers a couple of zones and there are mountain and costal
areas. In a particular location, there are issues such as how much sun the
plant gets, soil conditions, etc. It might help to elaborate on what
"unsuccessful" means. I have been successful in growing a hydrangeas in one
area of my property and successful in another. I have two lilacs that are
doing quite well and next-door, my neighbor's lilac died over the winter.
Georgia is divided up into a lot of zones from 6B to 9. You'd have to live
in zone 6B or 7A for lilacs to be ideal garden choices, as Syringa
vulgaris isn't very likely to make it in other parts of Georgia. As a
generality lilacs are ideal for zones 4-7 and for Northwest zone 8, but
south & southwest regions that are Zone 8 are so dissimilar from
northwestern zone 8 that it's rather absurd that places in Texas & much of
Georgia also average out to zone 8 despite summers so hot & winters so
mild that there's no chance that lilacs could bloom reliably even if they
Lilacs are notoriously difficult in the south. If you happen to live in a
part of the south that is Zone 8 this doesn't take into consideration
their dislike of high humidity, their intolerance of sustained high summer
temperatures, their preference for cool but long summer nights experienced
further north in order to set buds, & their need for a reasonably cold
The exceptions are not Syringa vulgaris, the largest most redolent & most
often planted lilac available in so many cultivars, but also the least
likely to succeed in the south. There are other species much more likely
to adjust to a hot-summered southern Zone 8. Three varieties most
associated with success in Georgia: the heat-hardy & rather small Syringa
patula 'Miss Kim,' and more especially Syringa oblata var. dilitata, and
Syringa x laciniata, cultivars of the two even having wholesale growers
in Georgia & North Carolina, so they ought to be distributed in your local
nurseries. But if you're in a Zone 9 part of Georgia, even these will
likely fail, or live but never bloom.
If you shop for lilacs at one of the big chain stores they alas are all to
frequently shipped plants totally unsuited to the zones those plants are
sold in, mass-produced plants contracted from a very limited number of
growers rather than selected from region-appropriate growers. So check out
the best independent nurseries for Syringa oblata var. dilitata and
Syringa x laciniata cultivars.
Budleia butterfly bush would be more certainly suited to Georgia gardens,
with flowers just as redolent as lilac.
-paghat the ratgirl
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