Ceanothus is a broad-leaved evergreen flowering shrub that is used for soft, informal hedges, screens, and as windbreaks in coastal regions. It is often referred to as California Lilac. Facts and information on ceanothus are given to help you find which shrub variety you may want to add to your landscape.
Facts on Ceanothus
Ceanothus is a deciduous and evergreen, shrub or small tree, that grows hardy in zones 7-10. It is widely grown in the Western United States, especially California. It has a medium growth rate and will grow up to 9 feet. It normally has beautiful a deep bluish-lavender clusters of flowers. However, some varieties will produce purple, blue, pink, or white flowers, while others produce lilac spikes. Evergreen varieties will flower in the spring, while deciduous types bloom in summer.
Ceanothus attracts butterflies to their long lilac-like clusters of blue, pink, or white flowers. It thrives in hot, dry summers and damp winters. Many of the 50 western species are drought-tolerant evergreens with dark green foliage, hardy in Zones 8-10.
Varieties of Ceanothus
The white flowered variety is known as New Jersey tea, Ceonothus americanus. The hardiest of the ceanothus, it grows wild in Zones 4-8 from eastern Canada to Manitoba and Texas. In Colonial times its leaves were used as a substitute for tea. The attractive summer-blooming shrub is compact and dense but transplants with difficulty. There are many better varieties of flowering shrubs now available.
*A new variety 'Marie simon' is a pink New Jersey tea that has light pink flowers that bloom in late spring. It is hardy in Zones 4-9.
Hybrid ceanothus are widely grown along the West coast, from British Columbia to southern California, and inland in warm dry regions of Zones 7-8. It is also known as Blueblossom or California lilac, and may reach 6 to 12 feet tall and is usually evergreen. Hybrid ceanothus are attractive in informal hedges and as specimens.
Cultivars include ‘Frosty Blue’, with large bright blue flowers frosted with white, and ‘Joyce coulter’, a low, mounding plant growing 2-4 ft. high and 8-10 ft. wide, with medium blue flowers. ‘Julia Phelps’, a 4-8 ft. Shrub that bears indigo-blue flowers. ‘Conchas’, which grows 6’ by 6’, and bears dark blue flowers, and is more tolerant of humidity than others.
Ceonthus x delilianus ‘Glorre de Versailles’ is a popular hybrid with light blue flowers which bloom from July to September. It grows in Zones 7-10. C. Gloriosus (Point Reyes creeper) has dense, shiny, evergreen leaves and 2” lavender flowers. C. Impressus ‘Victoria’ has deep blue flowers in late spring and grows 9’ tall and 10-12’ wide. C. “Italian Skies’ also has deep blue flowers in late spring and is used as a specimen or as a border plant.
Nurseries in southern California offer evergreen cultivars of the cold-sensitive and lovely C. Thyrsiflorus, hardy in Zones 8-9 or 10. This variety can grow to 21ft. The following cultivars are somewhat hardier than the species. ‘Louis Edmunds’ bears sky blue flowers and tolerates heavy soil and water. It reaches 6 to 19 ft.
‘Snow Flurry’, called white California lilac, is smaller, growing 6 to 10 ft. High. ‘Victoria’ which bears deep blue flowers in spring and responds well to shearing, is the hardiest, often even succeeding in Zone 7.
Ceanothus transplant easily in early fall or spring to well-drained soil with a neutral to alkaline pH. They do best in dry sunny sites, as a lot of moisture is detrimental to them.
*Tip- Prune ceanothus in April to keep the plant compact and to improve its flowering.
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