Ivory Silk Lilac Tree

Most folks have come to recognize the lilacs as the amazingly fragrant medium-sized shrub that erupts with blossoms in the middle of the spring. The ivory silk lilac is a cultivar of Syringa reticulata, which shares only the familiar shape of the blossoms. Besides that trait, it is almost unrecognizable as a relative of the ivory silk lilac.

Completely different in form, the ivory silk lilac stands as a single-trunked small tree or large shrub with white flowers that have very little fragrance which bloom in the summer months. The cultivar lends itself to uses that the straight species is lacking. For this reason, it deserves to be considered when you need a showy ornamental tree capable of adapting to a few uses in a landscape design.

  • Common Name Ivory silk lilac
  • Botanical Name Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’
  • Family Name Oleaceae
  • Plant Type Tree or large shrub
  • Mature Size 20-30 ft. tall, 15-20 ft. wide
  • Sun Exposure Full sun
  • Soil Type Clays, sandy loams, well-draining
  • Soil pH Neutral
  • Bloom Time Late June/July
  • Flower Color White
  • Hardiness Zones USDA 3-7
  • Native Area Japan

Ivory Silk Lilac Care

The Ivory Silk Lilac is an outstanding landscape tree that requires relatively little effort for the amount of appeal it delivers. And it’s especially appealing to pollinators; the tree will attract bees, insects, and birds during spring. The upkeep is minimal with most of the maintenance being sorted out prior to planting with proper placement and planning. The only real ongoing chore will be the occasional chore that will be pruning to rejuvenate growth and encourage blooming. Because of the ease of care and the high reward this cultivar is no-brainer when you want to add wow factor to your landscape and do not want to put in a ton of work.

Light: In order to guarantee you get the most abundant amount of blooms, you will want to put your Ivory Silk Lilac in a location that gets full sun. Putting it in a location with part sun or shade will give you a noticeable drop off in flowers, which is the main appeal of the tree, so plan ahead and pick the best spot before planting. If it is in a sunny spot, your tree will explode with huge white clusters of blooms and you will not regret the extra effort of scouting the perfect spot.

Soil: One of the great things about the ivory silk lilac is that it is capable of growing in some pretty terrible soil conditions. You do not want to aim to plant it in bad soil but it can be planted in adverse conditions like tree pits, as street trees, or to line a driveway, where soil might be rocky or compressed. The ideal soil would be an average soil rich in organics that is well-draining and is neutral to slightly alkaline.

Water: For such an ornamental tree you would think that the Ivory Silk Lilac would be a water hog but it actually is somewhat drought tolerant. In extremely dry weather it would be best to give some supplemental watering but unless you notice the tree suffering it can do well on its own on warm summer days.

You will need to provide it with water for the first two seasons while it is establishing a good strong root system. To give your watering a boost and to help conserve water you should apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree out to the dripline. After you apply your mulch you will want to water your newly planted tree every week at a rate of one gallon per trunk diameter at chest height. You should do this weekly for the first two years and then let nature take care of the rest.

Temperature and Humidity: Sadly one of the few drawbacks of the Ivory Silk Lilac is its somewhat narrow habitable range. When it comes to temperature extremes, it is not very hardy and will only thrive in the limited USDA range of 3 through 7.

Fertilizer: Applying a yearly feeding of a general slow-release fertilizer formulated for ornamental flowering trees is recommended to help keep your Ivory Silk Lilac in tip-top shape. Applying the fertilizer lightly in the spring once frost has passed with extended-release formulation should keep your tree happy and encourage an abundant amount of blooms and foliage.