Heat-tolerant broad-leaved evergreens, California Lilacs are the hot growing zones answer to the flouncy old-fashioned Lilac plants found in cooler climates! Remarkably adaptable to drought, saline, and hot growing conditions. These members of the Ceanothus family are easy to grow and will delight you with years worth of fragrant blooms, butterflies, hummingbirds, and rugged beauty!
One of the biggest disappointments for many gardeners that move from cooler to warmer climates is the loss of the old-fashioned Lilacs (Syringa) offered for those cooler climates, but won't grow in the warmer regions because of the lack of chill hours. But Nature Hills is here to relieve your suffering by introducing the next best (or maybe better) thing!
These members of the Ceanothus family are breathtaking flowering ornamental plants that generally flower in blue and purple in color and are sweetly fragrant. Try a few blooms in cut flower arrangements, but leave the rest outdoors for the bees! There are many different species of California Lilacs (Ceanothus) which can be deciduous or evergreen, tolerate drought and coastal conditions, and can be upright or spreading.
These are also nitrogen-fixing plants, that like Legumes, create nitrogen at their own roots, and help everything around them grow a bit greener! Plus they are vital resources for pollinators in your area!
Check out the amazing variety available here at Nature Hills Nursery!
Also known as Mountain Lilacs, Wild Lilacs, Buckbrush and Blueblossoms - the 60 species of California Lilacs can be found all over the warmer, arid parts of the US but most are found right in the great state that is their namesake.
The original California Lilac, also known as the Point Reyes Wild Lilac (Ceanothus gloriosus) or Point Reyes Ceanothus, is the true native found on coastal bluffs and adjacent flats from Point Reyes, CA to 80 miles north. It can reach 1-3 feet in height but sprawl 6-10 feet wide once mature! Fantastic groundcover and wonderful for cascading over walls and slopes, these plants fill themselves with deep blue to lavender flowers all spring long! The effect of the blooms over the glossy evergreen foliage is breathtaking! Hardy throughout USDA growing zones 7 to 10.
Ray Hartman (Ceanothus x 'Ray Hartman') is a cultivated hybrid of Ceanothus arboreus and Ceanothus griseus. It originated by chance and was released under the name ‘Blue Sky’ but in 1954 it was introduced by the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation and renamed 'Ray Hartman' after one of the Foundation's founding members. It was discovered in Ray Hartman's garden in the 1940s. It produces 6-inch long blue-flowered clusters all over a large, more upright-growing Ceanothus. Blooming throughout late winter and early spring. Unlike the native California Lilac, Ray Hartman is a more tree-like or large shrub in form, growing 12 - 20 feet in height with a multi-trunk form that can spread 10 - 20 feet wide. Hardy throughout USDA growing zones 9 and 10, it’s a fantastic broadleaved evergreen with textured, drought-resistant and considered one of the easiest California Lilacs to grow!
Skylark California Lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Skylark') is another soft lavender blue flowering variety that grows to a mid-sized shrub 4-6 feet in height but still has its native spreading abilities that can reach 6-7 feet wide. Very fragrant and joyful flowering plants and the color has been described as cerulean. Skylark explodes into bloom a bit later than others in the species, flowering late spring but continuing into summer. Another broad-leaved evergreen, the long-lived Skylark keeps its native hardiness as well throughout USDA growing zones 7 to 10!
Concha California Mountain Lilac (Ceanothus x 'Concha') is one of the oldest and best-spreading cultivars and can get to 4-8 feet high and wide, but is easily maintained smaller. It was originally found at the Bee Line Nursery in San Dimas. However, Concha makes up for the smaller flowers with pure blue intensity! Its abundant clusters of deep blue flowers in late spring and early summer. Wildlife, especially mockingbirds, finches, and quail, love it for both the cover it provides and the seeds it produces. Deer, on the other hand, seem to find it pretty unappetizing. Also widely adaptable to USDA hardiness zones 7-10, Mountain Lilacs tolerate sandy soil and are a wonderful xeric, broad-leaved evergreen variety!
Victoria California Lilac (Ceanothus impressus 'Victoria') is another water-wise and adaptable member of the family that has a mid-sized 6-8 feet tall and wide form! Great as hedges and for mass plantings, Victoria is also tolerant of coastal conditions. Use this low-maintenance choice to decorate sea walls with wind-tossed blooms. And those blooms! The clusters are fragrant all spring to summer in a hazy deep indigo blue to pale purple hue! Thriving in both full sun and even partial shade throughout USDA planting zones 7-10.
While the above big brothers and sisters of the Ceanothus are all evergreens, a few like the Marie Bleu™ and the native New Jersey Tea are deciduous, smaller options for slightly cooler climates of zones 6 and up. Both have misty blooms in pale blue to white or even pink! They stay under 4 feet in height and width. Also called Soap Plants, these smaller family members are more shrubby or wildflower-like, but keep the family’s drought-tolerance, hardiness, and fragrant flower clusters.
Native New Jersey Tea plants (Ceanothus americanus) are a white flowering species. Used in a wide variety of medicinal and folk cures, the leaves have been used to make a caffeine-free tea substitute. But we think they look better in the garden than in the cupboard!
California Lilacs are water-wise and Xeric despite the heat and sun! Not only that, these are vital nectar and pollen resources for butterflies and bees, but also fantastic cover and the seed heads provide food for bird-friendly gardens!
California Lilac can be an important plant to help protect your property from the ravages of wildfire. This native plant is recommended for use as part of the defensible space near homes and structures. We recommend calling your state forestry agencies and local fire protection district to request a region-specific property assessment.
The California Lilacs with a wide-spreading nature naturalize very well and spread like living, flowering mulch! Fill large swaths of ground in low-maintenance beauty, including hard-to-mow, eroding slopes and hillsides. They are especially striking when planted in mass plantings in the home or commercial settings. For quick fill, plant the California Lilac 5 to 6 feet on center and let it fill in together naturally.
Shrubby and tree-form California Lilacs are fantastic specimens and focal points in the garden, but also incredibly as hedges, privacy and screening, backdrops, and foundation plantings where their year-round green leaves really shine!
Ceanothus are very low maintenance once established and they don't need or like any coddling or fussing. In fact, too much water and too-rich soil is a surefire way to kill them.
Give these sun-lovers at least 6 hours of direct light a day. Though tolerant of some shade this will greatly affect the flowering and density of the plant.
Give young plants low amounts of regular water during their first season only. This will help their roots establish themselves in your soil. However, they truly thrive on low water and barely require summer watering once established. They are truly perfect for the xeric garden and drought-tolerant landscape!
Adapted to a wide range of different types of soil and thriving in poor soil, in fact, California Lilacs do their best in lean soils that have great drainage!
If your soil holds water, you'll need to use raised beds or plan to mound up. Add additional soil in a mound 18 - 24 inches high, and plant directly in the mound.
Prune right after blooming to remove spent flowers and to keep your plant looking even and full.
Satisfy your need for fragrant fluffy flowers and early spring blooms with the amazing California Lilac! You’ll enjoy year-round beauty and ultra-easy-to-grow landscapes that suit even the busiest or newest gardeners! Head over to Nature Hills and discover the perfect Ceanothus variety for your needs today!