US National Arboretum


Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit

'Old Glory' and 'Declaration':
Two Lovely New Lilacs from the Arboretum

photo of Declaration lilac blossoms

After years of hybridizing, testing and evaluation, two new lilac (Syringa) cultivars, 'Old Glory' and 'Declaration' were released to the ornamental nursery industry by the Arboretum’s shrub breeding program. These are the second and third new lilacs released by the Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit of the Arboretum, and follow the release of 'Betsy Ross' in 2000. The new lilacs are ideal for a variety of landscape uses from specimen plants, hedges or even in mass plantings.

'Declaration' was selected for its fragrant striking reddish-purple flowers in floral clusters up to 30 cm (15 inches) long along the branches (see image at left). This shrub has an open, upright growth habitat and in 25 years has reached a height of 2.6 meters (slightly over 8 feet) in Washington, D.C. 'Declaration' is recommended for the traditional cooler lilac-growing regions, generally USDA Hardiness Zone 6 and cooler. Check out our new draft 'Declaration' Fact Sheet [PDF file].

photo of Old Glory lilac bush

'Old Glory' has abundant fragrant bluish-purple flowers, rounded growth habitat and leaves that have improved disease tolerance (see image at right). This new cultivar has good tolerance to Cercospora blight and Pseudomonas syringae in warmer climates where these two diseases are a problem. 'Old Glory' is the larger of the two new plants and has grown to 3.5 meters (over 10 feet) in Washington, D.C., in 25 years. Check out our new draft 'Old Glory' Fact Sheet [PDF file].

Both of these exciting new lilacs are the result of controlled hybridization efforts using other cultivated forms by scientists in the Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit. This is one of the methods used by plant breeding scientists to develop new ornamental plants for the U.S. landscape. Both of the new cultivars have been thoroughly tested throughout most of the eastern United States from Alabama and Mississippi in the south and north to Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts. Wholesale growers are currently propogating 'Old Glory' and 'Declaration', and should make them available to the public from a limited number of retail and mail-order nurseries in 2007.

The U.S. National Arboretum is the leading institution in the United States conducting long-term hybridization, testing and evaluation of trees and shrubs. Over 650 named cultivars have been released by the Arboretum to the ornamental nursery and floral industries.

(Photos: Top left, 'Declaration'; right, 'Old Glory')

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Last Updated   December 7, 2006 2:35 PM

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