We have a cabin up in the mountains at this location. It is about 9000' above sea level. The ground totally freezes in the winter and is usually covered with snow until mid May. Will lilac bushes grow here?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
Kathryn from Brian Head, UT
Colorado State University recommends two types of lilacs for mountain altitudes. Common lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) should grow to 9,000 ft. The same is true for the Preston or Canadian lilac (syringa x prestoniae). Both require full sun exposure, have light to moderate moisture requirements and grow up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The common lilac is slightly more upright and vase-shaped, whereas the Canadian lilac has more of an oval shape with upright branches. Both shrubs come in a variety of colors. Before purchasing young shrubs, I would recommend contacting your local county extension agency. They may be able to provide you with more information on how these lilacs perform in your specific growing area.
There are a number of important aspects to consider when growing plants at higher altitudes. Exposure to wind can also determine whether a tree or shrub will survive higher elevations. Lilac flowers are sensitive to frost, so a sheltered site at your elevation would probably be best. The length of your frost-free period matters, too. Some shrubs may survive at a given elevation, but they may not produce flowers if the frost-free period is too short. Roots can be mulched to help delay freezing of the soil in the fall and also to retain moisture.
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I live in central vermont and we also get snow in October and it lasts until April - we have no problems growing lilacs here as I have many many of them. You may want to give them a heavy coat of mulch in the fall right after the first hard frost.
Lilacs prefer cold climates. Look around for some growing in your area and find out just what kind they are. I know they grow good in the mountains of NH (like the other post said in VT).
We have lilacs growing here in zone 5 in northern PA. I've read that lilacs like sun and slightly alkaline soil.
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