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You're invited to participate in the Cloned Plants Project by purchasing a cloned lilac and reporting phenology observations via Nature's Notebook. You can also participate by tracking a common lilac that is already established in your yard.
A lilac in New York blooms later than a lilac in Virginia. Why? One way to better understand the timing of spring phenology is by planting genetically identical plants, or clones, in different locations, and then to observe when they leaf out and flower. When observations are made on cloned plants, you can know with confidence that differences in the timing of flowering and leafing between different individuals is due to differences in local environmental conditions.
Consider contributing to this valuable effort by tracking a cloned lilac (Syringa x chinensis 'Red Rothomagensis') in your yard. View the map to find out whether lilacs grow where you live. We are also interested in observations of cloned dogwoods; if you live in the southeastern US, a cloned dogwood might be best for you.
This spring, you will receive predictions of when your cloned lilac will leaf-out and flower, an effort we call springcasting. We will send you two emails this spring - one alerting you that your lilac should be leafing out in the next three days, and one alerting you that your lilac should bloom. Check your lilacs to see if the prediction is correct as soon after these emails as you can, and report your observations in Nature's Notebook.
These predictions will help you to more accurately capture the start of leafing and flowering on your lilacs.
How to participate...
1. Obtain your cloned plants.
Cloned lilacs are available for purchase through Jung Seed Company during the planting season (late March through early June) at a cost of $20 for two plants. Place an order from their direct page or call 1-800-247-5864.
Once you have received your plants, check the information on choosing a planting site and on lilac planting and care.
If you prefer to track plants which are already established at your site, we also welcome observations on common lilac (Syringa vulgaris).
2. Join Nature's Notebook. If you haven't already, create a Nature's Notebook account. See our specifics of observing if you need more details on getting started. Make sure you register your lilac as the clone Syringa x chinensis 'Red Rothomagensis' when adding the plant to your site.
3. Observe your plant(s). Report what you see (yes/no/not sure) on your plant periodically following the instructions for cloned lilacs. We encourage you to observe your plant(s) 2-4 times a week, especially in the spring, when things are changing rapidly. However, we welcome any observations you can contribute.
4. Report your observations. As you collect data during the season, log in to your Nature's Notebook account and enter the observation data you recorded. You can also use our smartphone apps to submit your observations!
In 2018, you reported leafing for cloned lilacs at 83 sites and flowering at 83 sites.
In general, reports from the Southwest and Southern Great Plains had the greatest difference between predicted and reported leaf out. Northern parts of the country tended to report leaf out earlier than predicted, while southern parts of the country tended to report leaf out later than predicted.
In general, your reports of cloned lilacs showed great agreement with predicted flowering.
Cloned plants program roots
For over 50 years cooperators in the United States and Canada have assisted phenological researchers by making phenological observations on cloned lilacs and honeysuckles. This program has now been incorporated into the USA-NPN's Cloned Lilac Campaign. Previously it had been part of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Indicator Observation Program. In addition to the cloned and common lilac, some participants in the UWM program observed cloned honeysuckle Lonicera tatarica 'Arnold Red'. Due to its invasive nature, honeysuckles have not been distributed to observers since 1987. The USA-NPN does not distribute the honeysuckle nor support its distribution, but we do welcome observations from historically established cloned honeysuckles. Find out more about this rich legacy dataset.