Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'
Meyer's Dwarf Lilac
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Family: Olive family (Oleaceae)
Native Habitat: China

General Lilac Information:
Ah, Lilacs! The quintessential spring flowering shrub. The plant to buy mom for Mother's Day. The beautiful flowers and their incredible fragrance. They've been one of our most popular shrubs for centuries. In fact the first record for their cultivation dates to the 1500's.

When most people think of Lilacs, it's the "Common Lilac" (Syringa vulgaris) that springs to mind.  A wonderful shrub in many respects, it does have some serious deficiencies, three in particular. They grow too large for many gardens. Depending on variety they can max out at 8 to 15 ft. in height with a spread of 6 to 12 ft. Not a small shrub! They tend to sucker, many varieties profusely. These root suckers surround the plant at the base and really detract from what would otherwise be a nice vase-shaped form. And perhaps worst of all, they are often disease prone with powdery mildew on the foliage being particularly troublesome. Leaves can be almost completely covered by mildew in bad years.

Fortunately there are some fantastic lilac varieties that have nearly all the positives of Common Lilac with none of the negatives. We've tried to select a few of the best to offer in our catalog.

This variety:
One of the greatest Lilac introductions ever, its name, S. meyeri 'Palibin', honors two plant explorers from the early 20th century. Frank Meyer was one of the most prolific plant explorers of all time. He made four trips to China for the USDA in the early 1900's. All told he spent over 10 years traversing the mountains, deserts, farms, and forests of Asia in search of fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, and fodder crops. He was responsible for the introduction of over 2,500 plants to the U.S. He also eagerly complied with the USDA policy of collecting ornamentals "when encountered". In 1908, in a garden near Beijing, Meyeri first collected this wonderful Lilac. Its ultimate origin is unknown as it has never been found growing in the wild. The variety name 'Palibin' honors the Russian botanist and plant explorer of the same era, Ivan Palibin.

'Palibin' is truly a fantastic plant. It is the most compact of all Lilacs, usually not growing more than 4 ft. tall and slightly wider. The small, lustrous leaves are never disfigured by mildew or other foliar diseases. Blooming in mid-spring, the floral display is impressive. The extremely fragrant light pink flowers occur on panicles up to 4" long, not particularly long as Lilacs go. However the panicles are borne extremely dense so that when in bloom the flowers literally smother the plant. If you can grow only one Lilac, you might consider putting 'Pabibin' at the top of your list.

Ornamental Characteristics:
Deep-pink buds open to sweetly-fragrant light-pink flowers in early May (northern Indiana). Extremely heavy bloomer. 4" long flower panicles literally cover  the plant. Attractive, small, shiny leaves no larger than 1-3/4" long and not quite as wide.
Habit & Growth Rate:
Medium-slow growth rate. Maximum size of 4 to 5' high and slightly wider. One of the smallest growing Lilacs.
Landscape Uses: Shrub border, foundation plantings, specimen plant. Flowers attract butterflies.
Hardiness: Zone 3 to 8.
Easily grown in average garden soil. Full sun best. Excellent disease resistance.

Award of Garden Merit, Royal Horticultural Society
Recommended Highly, Ohio Nursery & Landscape Assoc.
Gold Medal Plant Award, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society