Lilacs are an old-fashioned shrub whose fragrant flowers fill the air with an unmistakably sweet perfume. The flowers come in many shades of purple, pink, white and yellow. Lilacs are often thought of as a spring-blooming plant because at one time this was the only time of the year they bloomed. In recent years, new varieties of lilacs such as "Josee" and "Bloomerang" have changed the course of history by blooming all season long, making them a perfect foundation for your garden.
Spring-flowering bulbs are a natural choice to plant as companions to lilacs. Lily of the valley, daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, grape hyacinth and peonies multiply, quickly filling the area around the lilac and making weeding a breeze. Just as there are many different varieties of these bulbs, there are many different varieties of lilacs. When pairing them, look for ones that bloom at the same time. Pair reblooming daylilies, such as "Stella D'Oro," with the newer varieties of lilacs that bloom all season long.
Lavender, thyme, St. John's wort, ladies bedstraw and mint are ideal companion herbs for lilacs. Thyme, ladies bedstraw, mint and some varieties of St. John's wort will make a low-growing ground cover under and around the lilac that will choke out weeds. These natural ground covers also help conserve soil moisture. Lavender is a small shrub with highly fragrant pink, white or purple flowers. Lilac flowers are edible, so pairing them with herbs is a unique way to create a rather unusual edible garden.
Perennials that make good companion plants for lilacs include forget-me-nots, wildflowers, hosta, campanula and ajuga. Hosta, forget-me-nots and campanula will appreciate the shade a lilac tree provides. Prune the lower branches to create a garden underneath the bush, or to create a lilac tree. Forget-me-nots, campanula and ajuga will form a dense ground cover over time. Wildflowers are ideal for naturalizing the area around lilacs. Select wildflowers that are native to your location for the best results.
Trees and Shrubs
There are a number of trees and shrubs that make good companion plants for lilacs. Consider planting other lilacs that bloom at a different time to extend the show. Flowering crabapples, dogwoods, flowering cherries, magnolias and weigela are other good choices that make an outstanding spring display in the garden when grown together. When planting trees and shrubs as companion plants, leave enough room between the plants so they can grow to their mature size without needing to be dug up and moved.