Common Name: California lilac
Origin: North America from southern Canada to Guatemala. In California it is found in coastal scrub, chaparral, and open woodlands.
Features/Uses: Use some varieties as a ground cover especially on slopes. Shrub forms work well as backbone or foundation plants in the landscape while small tree forms are excellent focal points.
Growth Habit: Ceanothus species are quite diverse and range from low growing ground covers to small trees, with many shrubby forms in between. Evergreen foliage varies from large to small, smooth or ridged, light apple green to dark black-green, even variegated.
Bloom time is usually late winter to early spring. The blooms are lightly fragrant and a good pollen source for bees.
Cultural Requirements: Ceanothus naturally grow in well drained, nutrient deficient soils in areas that receive little to no summer moisture. Gardens that emulate these conditions offer the best chance for successful growing. Certain varieties like C. ‘Ray Harman’, C. ‘Yankee Point’, and C. ‘Concha’ have the reputation of being tolerant of garden conditions. Usually no additional fertilizer is needed because the plants have the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil.
Where at SDBG: California Gardenscapes, Native Plants, Native Peoples, Hamilton Children’s Garden
Photos: Rachel Cobb