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Lilac vs Lavender: 10 differences to consider.

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Although lavender and lilac are stunning and scented herbs, each has unique features. Learn Ten main differences between lavender and lilac, their uses, and benefits.

These two herbs are impenetrable in springtime. They are shrubs and here is to understand better why. Their vibrant colors and lovely scents fill the air, making them popular among gardeners.

While I love to infuse Levander in oil and make lavender water and bath bombs, I also enjoy its specific flavor when making lavender strawberry jam or extract. Lilac, on the other hand, is scented and great for creating fragrant lilac oil, tea, jelly or syrup.

Even though both have a similar purple color, lavender, and lilac are two different plants. 

 Let’s dig deeper and uncover what these herbs have in common and their differences.

differences between lilac and lavender


To better understand the differences in appearance, let’s see from which families these herbs are. 

Lavender, also known as Lavandula, is a shrub belonging to the mint family (Lamiaceae), making lavender relative to mint or lemon balm.

Lilac shrub, known by botanists as Syringa, belongs to the olive family Oleaceae. This family includes other popular ornamental trees such as olive and ash. 

Lilac grows as small tree or large shrub that can grow up to 6 meters in height and 5 meters in width. In contrast, lavender grows as compact, bushy shrubs reaching a height of 30 to 60 centimeters and a width of about 30 to 45 centimeters.



Lavender has narrow, needle-like leaves that are gray-green. The leaves grow opposite each other on the stem and are arranged in a symmetrical pattern. They are covered in fine hairs, giving them a slightly fuzzy texture. In addition, lavender leaves have a pleasant fragrance and are often used in aromatherapy or cooking as rosemary leaves. 

Lilac leaves are heart or oval-shaped and larger than lavender leaves. They are glossy and dark green and grow in an alternate pattern on the stem. Unlike lavender, lilac leaves are not used for culinary or aromatic purposes.

lilac oil
lilac oil


Lavender is a flowering plant with flowers arranged in pairs or in whorls held on spikes rising above the foliage, with a tubular base opening up into a cylindrical shape.

In case you are confused, I compiled a list of plants that look like lavender.

The lilac flowers grow in large panicles with cone-shaped appearance and clusters of small, tightly-packed petals.

Lavender beautiful flowers are smaller than a large lilac size that can be up to 10-15cm long.


As a shrub, lavender typically produces multiple stems emerging from the soil of a single plant. While they have a woody texture near the roots, they become increasingly tender as they grow. The branches of a mature lilac plant are considerably thicker and woodier than those of lavender.

lilac flowers
lilac flowers and leaves

2. Flavor

While both herbs have floral notes, lavender has a stronger, more distinct flavor commonly used for culinary purposes.

The flavor of lilac is described as floral, with hints of citrus and a slight bitterness. However, each flower has a different taste and fragrance. It pairs well with citrus and strawberry so when you make lilac syrup, serve it with strawberry sorbet or lemon cocktails.

Lavender, on the other hand, makes a popular addition to cookies, jams or syrups for its distinct flavor. Its English variety (Lavandula Angustifolia) is the most popular variety used for culinary purposes. It has a floral and slightly sweet taste with a hint of bitterness and a slightly medicinal aftertaste. The flavor of lavender can vary depending on the variety and how it’s prepared.

lilac syrup

3. Fragrance: Do lilac and lavender smell the same?

Lilac and lavender are popular flowers for their pleasant strong fragrance.

Lilac has a unique sweet, floral scent with a hint of spiciness. Often described as being fresh and clean, the lilac fragrance can be quite strong. Lilac smells more intense than lavender, and it is often used in perfumes, oils, and candles.

On the other hand, the lavender scent is more earthy with a slightly sweet and floral note. Lavender’s sweet scent is more subtle than lilac’s and is often used in skincare products such as soaps, lotions or salves.

4. Color: Is Lilac Color the same shade of purple as lavender color?

Lavender and lilac are two different herbs with two different colors. 

Lilac flowers range from pale pink to deep purple, with some varieties producing white or yellow blooms. Lavender flowers range in color from cool light purple to pinkish mauve hues, with some varieties even producing lavender pink, rich lilac, or white flowers.

Both herbs have extraordinary confident colors that are noticeable from a distance. Their distinctive shades have helped people describe colors since ancient times. And the names lilac and lavender are still used today.

Lilac is a pale purple color with a slight pinkish hue. Though lilac is a shade of violet, it is closer to purple than violet. There are varieties of lilac shades, such as pale Lilac, deep Lilac, bright lilac, French lilac, etc.

Lavender is a pale purple with a bluish tinge, a cooler purple shade. This shade has many variations, such as pale lavender, lavender blue, pink lavender, etc.

Both colors are in the purple family and have a pale, pastel appearance. Lilac is a versatile color with a warmer and slightly pinkish undertone, while lavender has a cooler and somewhat bluish undertone.

lavender oil
lavender oil

5. Growing conditions: Can Lilac and Lavender Grow Together?

I would not recommend growing these two plants because each requires different conditions.

Lavender is a versatile plant that tolerates hot and dry conditions better than lilac, which prefers cooler temperatures and moist soil. Lavender thrives in Mediterranean climates, while lilac grows best in temperate climates with cool summers.

Lilac bush prefers well-drained, slightly alkaline soil and does not tolerate drought, while lavender thrives in dry, rocky soil that is more alkaline and does not require as much watering.

While both herbs require full sun to grow and bloom, lavender can tolerate more intense sun exposure than lilac.

In addition, lilacs require pruning to maintain their shape and encourage blooming, and lavender to prevent woody growth and promote bushiness.

lavender extract
lavender extract

6. Medicinal properties: Difference between lavender and lilac.

While both lavender and lilac have been traditionally used for their medicinal properties, they have different active compounds and health benefits.

Lavender is well-known for its calming and relaxing properties, and it has been used to ease anxiety, insomnia, and stress. It contains compounds such as linalool and linalyl acetate, which have been shown to have soothing effects on the central nervous system. Lavender is also used topically to treat minor burns, cuts, and insect bites due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Lilac, on the other hand, contains compounds such as syringin and verbascoside with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies suggest that lilac is also an anti-cancer agent that inhibits the growth of certain types of cancer cells in vitro. Lilac also has been used traditionally to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and digestive issues such as bloating and constipation.

lavender water

7. Uses: Lavender vs Lilac flower

Lilac and lavender are both aromatic flowering plants that have been used for centuries in various fields, including skincare, natural remedies, and the kitchen.

In skin care, lilac is known for its antibacterial properties, making it a good choice for treating acne-prone skin. Add a few drops of this lilac oil to your toner or bath.

Lavender, on the other hand, is known for its calming and soothing properties, making it an excellent choice for sensitive skin. It can also help reduce redness and inflammation. A few drops of lavender oil to your bathwater or this lavender salve may help you to soothe your skin.

Lavender Flashcard
Lavender Flashcard

Lavender helps to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and soothe headaches. You can make lavender tea by steeping dried flowers in hot water for a few minutes or adding a few drops of this lavender extract into your tea to calm your senses. Lavender also repels bed bugs and makes an effective bed bug spray.

Both plants can be used to twist desserts like cakes, cookies, and ice cream in cooking and baking. You can also use lilac to make a delicious and refreshing lilac lemonade.

lavender flower
lavender flower

8.History and Origine

Lavender originates from the Mediterranean region, and the name “lavender” is derived from the Latin word “lavare”, which means “to wash”. Lavender was commonly used in ancient Rome and Greece for its cleansing and antiseptic properties. The plant was also used to scent the water in which people bathed and in perfumes and cosmetics. It is also possible that lavender was used in some way in the preparation of the body for burial or as a way to mask the odor of decomposition. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this theory.

Whereas lilac is native to Eastern Europe and Asia and have been cultivated for centuries for their fragrant flowers. In the 16th century, lilacs were introduced to France, where they became popular with the aristocracy and were used in perfumes and cosmetics. The flowers were also used in sachets to freshen linens and clothing.

9. Symbols

Lilacs are often associated with the first love or the first emotions of love because of their delicate and sweet fragrance. They are also commonly associated with Easter time because they typically bloom in the spring, which is when Easter is celebrated. In many cultures, lilacs decorate homes and churches during the Easter season as a symbol of renewal and rebirth. Here are beautiful lilac quotes and captions to inspire you.

Lavender’s sweet, floral fragrance has long been associated with romance and love. In Victorian times, lavender was often used in love potions and sachets to attract a lover or enhance one’s romantic prospects.

Lavender’s clean, fresh scent and calming properties have also symbolized purity and serenity. Therefore, meditation and relaxation practices often use it to help create a peaceful and calming atmosphere.

10. Lifespan

Lilac plants are long-lived shrubs that can survive for several decades with proper care. Some lilac cultivars, such as the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), can live for up to 100 years. 

In contrast, lavender plants have a shorter lifespan and are typically grown as annual or perennial herbs. Annual lavender plants, such as French lavender (Lavandula stoechas), usually live for only one growing season and must be replanted yearly. Perennial lavender plants, such as English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), can live for several years with proper care, but their lifespan is typically shorter than that of lilac plants.

lilac vs lavender
Vladka Merva on March 29th, 2023

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