Ceanothus, or the Californian Lilac

CeanothusThere are over 50 species of Ceanothus and their cultivars

Californian Lilacs can offer masses of beautiful shades of blue in the Spring, livening up any garden and producing a calming effect.

If you have a Ceanothus in your garden you can sit and soak up the cooling, calming effect of the beautiful blue flowers that the Californian Lilacs produce in Spring. These stunning shrubs can help calm your rage with their masses beautiful flowers.

There are over 50 species of Ceanothus and the associated cultivars. They are mainly native to the west of North America, in particular the coastal regions of California. There are some Ceanothus that have white or pink flowers but the majority that you see have blue flowers. The tiny flowers are clustered together in thimble-shaped groups called cymes.

Californian Lilacs are useful for a shrub border but they really thrive when given the protection and warmth of a sunny, south-facing wall. There are also some low growing and prostrate species and cultivars that make excellent ground cover plants. E.g. Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. repens

Ceanothus generally survive UK winters very well, but there are some that are slightly tender and may have individual shoots damaged by the cold weather. The essential cultivation requirements for prolific blooming are good drainage and lots of sunshine; mimicking the climate and terrain of their native habitats. If watered well in the early years, mature plants do well on dry soils and have some drought resistance.

Californian Lilacs usually have deep green, glossy, oval leaves. They do suffer however, when they are planted on shallow, chalky soils that are often deficient in Iron, causing the foliage to turn yellow.

Pruning of Ceanothus is easy; the early flowering varieties that are flowering in May have produced flowers on the previous year’s wood. These should be pruned straight after flowering, trimming to the shape you want, removing any wayward shoots.

The Californian Lilacs that flower later in the year, some during autumn and early winter e.g. Ceanothus 'Autumnal Blue' produce flowers on the current year’s growth, these should be pruned in early spring.

If you don’t already have one, treat yourself to a Ceanothus. They are trustworthy, trouble free and very cheap to look after!

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Article written by on 17 May 2009 and Filed under Shrubs.