James MacFarlane Lilac

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Easily extend the amount of time you get to enjoy the mesmerizing springtime scent of Lilacs by simply adding James MacFarlane Lilac (Syringa x presoniae 'James MacFarlane'). They bloom just about two weeks later than Syringa vulgaris types. And what magnificent blooms!

True pink flowers bloom freely on large trusses borne on the branch tips for a showy spring display. These deliciously scented flowers bloom in May and June, depending on where you live. They are especially attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. They are so floriferous you can use a single stem as a bouquet all by itself! The flowers are held aloft on the plant on excellent stems for cutting.

The flower buds are a dark-rose, almost burgundy color. As the flowers open, the soft, true pink flower color is revealed. For cut flowers, pick them just as the flowers are beginning to open and they'll last in the vase for a long time. The flowers have a wonderful Lilac fragrance but are not overpowering.

Landscapers love the versatility of this lovely, coarse-textured, deciduous shrub. It makes an elegant oval specimen for a sunny location. Bright green foliage turns a buttery yellow in the fall before dropping.

Originating from Canada, tough James MacFarlane is very cold-hardy all the way down to USDA growing zone 2 through 7. This wonderful Lilac blooms about two weeks after Common Purple Lilacs.

It will not produce suckering growth from the base as the Common Lilacs do. Rather, it remains a strongly oval shrub that stays neat and narrow at the base. Plant smaller ornamental shrubs in front without worrying about them being overrun.

Planting and Application:

Not suckering like some Lilacs may, for that reason, James MacFarlane is a perfect backdrop to a perennial or mixed shrub border or a stand-alone specimen in the middle of your front yard berm! Use this Lilac as a perfect focal point plant or as an anchor at the corner of your home or deck. It instantly softens hard angles and provides a delicious spring fragrance!

This Canadian Hybrid Lilac makes the perfect untrimmed hedge. It grows to just the right height to block messy neighbors or unsightly views from your home. You'll love these as a friendly fence along your property line, and we're sure your neighbors will agree. There is something wonderful about how the wind blows through big, mature Lilacs standing all in a row.

James MacFarlane makes the perfect backdrop for your mixed shrub border with nice green foliage and masses of huge branched flower trusses that are borne on the branch tips. Face their sunny side with layers of smaller, more colorful shrubs and perennials to create a wonderful focal point. Add privacy to the back of your patio seating. Or, try them in a side yard to shield the view from a window.

You can even use the super cold hardy James MacFarlane Lilac in a row along the driveway to block blowing snow. Try them on the edge of prairie plantings for the same reason. No worries about winter damage!

These carefree plants are often used in gorgeous mass plantings for commercial landscapes. To create a tight hedge, plant them 3 feet apart on center. Measure from the center of one to the center of the next. Increase the spacing to 5 feet apart, if you prefer a looser look and you aren't in a hurry for screening. Use multiple zig-zagging rows to create a mass planting and cover a wide area with this beautiful, durable plant. Apply mulch between the plants and keep it weeded while you wait for them to grow together.

Butterflies adore this pretty shrub! Give one or more as a housewarming gift, with a Butterfly Identification book and a durable notebook and pen set. Hang some bird feeders and hummingbird feeders since all will be dropping by for a visit!

  • Large Clusters of Pink Blooms & Amazing Scent
  • Blooms Later Than Common Purple Lilac
  • Attracts Butterflies & Hummingbirds
  • Non-Suckering Lilac Stays Elegant & Refined
  • Magnificent Flowering Privacy Screens, Accents & Fragrant Specimens

#ProPlantTips for Care:

James MacFarlane is going to love any wide-open, sunny areas and requires little care beyond regular watering. Plant Lilacs in full sun, and it's best to give them well-drained soil. For the best results, Lilacs should be grown in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil.

James MacFarlane can tolerate very brief periods of damp soil that would hurt other Lilac varieties. However, well-drained soil is always best. However, it's best to keep your plants stress-free by applying an even amount of moisture on a regular basis. Add a nice, thick layer of wood chip mulch to keep the root system cool and moist. Start this right away as your new plant is getting established in your native soil.

If you need to prune any crossing branches, prune immediately after the flowers start to fade. Don't wait any longer, or you'll risk removing the blooms for next spring. James MacFarlane will produce flowers on last year's wood, so properly timed pruning is important.

A unique Lilac that will not sucker in your garden bed. They'll stay just where you plant them. James MacFarlane also does not get mildew on its elliptical green leaves. Deer populations will choose other Lilacs before they go for Preston varieties. In heavy deer pressure, they'll eat just about anything. If you live with deer in your area, apply repellent spray on planting day and reapply per directions. Fence young plants as a precaution.

  • Full Sun
  • Well-Drained Moderately Moist Soil of Almost Any Kind
  • Prune Immediately After Flowering
  • Low Maintenance Shrub
  • Extremely Cold Hardy
  • Deer & Mildew Resistant

Plant in your garden and enjoy the sight and smell of the gorgeous blooms for years to come. Order your fragrant, rugged James MacFarlane Lilac from the premier growers at Nature Hills Nursery today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How big does James MacFarlane Lilac get?

James MacFarlane Lilac can reach a mature height of 6-8 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide in optimal conditions.

Is the James MacFarlane Lilac any good?

The James MacFarlane Lilac is a fantastic non-suckering, compact shrub with lovely pink blooms and that carries a lovely Lilac scent. James MacFarlane is also cold-hardy, and highly disease and mildew-resistant!

How do you take care of a James MacFarlane Lilac?

Provide your Lilac with full sun and well-drained enriched soil that has a good layer of mulch over the soil surface. Water moderately yet consistently and fertilize with a blooming plant fertilizer at least once a year. Prune only immediately after the first flowers have faded.

Is James MacFarlane Lilac fragrant?

James MacFarlane Lilac carries the distinctive Lilac family scent!

What Shipping Options Do You Offer?

NatureHills.com works closely with our growers and nursery professionals to ensure we ship when it is most appropriate for your area. Our goal is to deliver the hardiest plants by avoiding extreme high and low temperatures. Check out our shipping schedule for more information and to learn our wills and won'ts when it comes to shipping plants. Find your James MacFarlane Lilac for sale here at NatureHills.com!

Buying Options for Plants

Nature Hills sells a large variety of plants with several options available. Plants are offered in both potted containers and as dormant bare root without soil. Here is a helpful resource to understand your options as you create a beautiful landscape with help from Nature Hills.

Ever wonder what a larger plant will mean for your landscape? Container Sizes are really all about the age of the plant!

Seasonally, Nature Hills offers hand selected, high quality bare root trees, shrubs and perennials. Bare root plants are sold by height from the top of the root system to the top of the plant. Plants may be taller than the height minimums.

  • Popular sizes of select trees are 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, etc.
  • Popular sizes of select bare root plants is 1 foot, 18 inches, etc.

Nature Hills Container Size by Volume

Keep in mind, specific varieties and different growing conditions can affect the rate at which plants grow. Variations in size may occur.

Young Plants to 18 Months
Size Volume
2"x2"x3" Ranges from .18 to .21 dry quarts / .198 to .23 dry liters in volume
4.5" Container Equal to .65 dry quart / .72 dry liter in volume
Sprinter Pot Equal to .63 dry quart / .69 dry liter in volume
4" Container Ranges from .31 to .87 / .35 to .96 dry liter in volume
6" Container Equal to 1.4 dry quarts / 1.59 dry liters in volume
1 Quart Equal to 1 dry quart / 1.1 dry liter in volume
5.5" Container Equal to 1.89 of a dry quart / 2.08 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x5" Ranges from .8 to 1.1 dry quarts / .88 to 1.2 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x6" Ranges from 1.0 to 1.3 dry quarts / 1.1 to 1.41 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x9" Ranges from 1.1 to 2.1 dry quarts / 1.2 to 2.3 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x10" Ranges from 1.7 to 2.3 dry quart / 1.87 to 2.53 dry liters in volume
Plants 18 Months - 2.5 Years Old
Size Volume
2 Quart Equal to 2 dry quarts / 2.2 dry liters in volume
#1 Container Ranges from 2.26 to 3.73 dry quarts / 2.49 to 4.11 dry liters in volume
5"x5"x12" Equal to 3.5 to 4.3 dry quarts / 3.85 to 4.74 dry liters in volume
Plants 2 - 4 Years Old
Size Volume
#2 Container Ranges from 1.19 to 1.76 dry gallons / 5.24 to 7.75 dry liters in volume
#3 Container Ranges from 2.32 to 2.76 dry gallons / 10.22 to 12.16 dry liters in volume
Plants 3 - 5 Years Old
Size Volume
#5 Container Ranges from 2.92 to 4.62 dry gallons / 12.86 to 20.35 dry liters in volume
#6 Container Ranges from 5.25 to 6.01 dry gallons / 23.12 to 26.42 dry liters in volume
#7 Container Ranges from 5.98 to 6.08 dry gallons / 26.34 to 26.78 dry liters in volume

About Plant Sentry™

Plant Sentry is designed to protect both consumers and the nursery trade from invasive plant pests and diseases. Sites that display the Plant Sentry protection badge are protected from consumers buying and nurseries shipping material carrying invasive pests and diseases.

This proprietary eCommerce software prevents the shipment of a restricted plant to each state. The Plant Sentry system includes a shipment certification program. The Plant Sentry Compliance Officer works closely with NatureHills.com and each nursery or fulfillment center to ensure only compliant plants are sold to customers.

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Plant Sentry


To obtain a more accurate shipment time-frame, simply enter your zip code in the “Find Your Growing Zone” box to the right. Our plants are grown all over the country and lead time on items may be different because of this. Once your order is placed, you will also receive the specific shipment time-frame information as part of your order confirmation. Once an item ships, you will receive shipment notification and tracking numbers, so you can follow along while your plant travels to your doorstep. We use FedEx, UPS, or USPS at our discretion.

Due to winter weather we have put a hold on shipping to the areas shown below in grey. You can still order now and we will ship the plant to you during an appropriate time for your zone.

*If you have found your zone already, it will be highlighted in the table below.
Color Zone Times
3 Spring 2019
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Shipping Rates

At Nature Hills we handle, package and ship the products you order with the utmost care to ensure healthy delivery. Shipping and handling charges are calculated based on the tables below. Please note that some items include an additional handling surcharge, these will be noted on the item's product page.

From To S&H
0 - 19.99 24.99
20 - 49.99 29.99
50 - 69.99 34.99
70 - 99.99 39.99
100 - 129.99 44.99
130 - 149.99 48.99
150 - 150+ Approx 28%

Click here to see our full rates


James MacFarlane Lilac Is Suited to Grow in Zones 2-7
Growing Zones 2-7
More Information
Brand Nature Hills' Choice
Botanical Name Syringa x prestoniae 'James MacFarlane'
Type Deciduous
Mature Height 6 - 8 feet
Mature Spread 6 - 10 feet
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Well Drained
Moisture Moderate
Growth Rate Medium
Foliage Color Green
Fall Color Yellow
Pollinator Friendly Yes
Pruning Time After Flowering
Fragrant Yes