Ceanothus aka California Lilac: California Lilacs, or Ceanothus, are one of the few native plants that are frequently seen in home gardens, both as individual plants and as hedges. The reason is obvious, since they are some of our most fragrant and colorful shrubs . They range in size from low to the ground to small trees, and have tiny white, greenish-white, blue, pale purple or pink flowers grouped in large fragrant clusters.
They are a particularly good choice for gardeners considering plants with very low water needs. In fact, it is important to avoid watering Ceanothus. They can live 20 to 25 years, but are harmed by too much 'help' in the form of drip irrigation, summer water and soil amendments.
We aren't their only admirers...the shrubs can also be at some risk from browsing deer, although less so if they are not overwatered. A number of butterflies, including the California Tortoise Shell Butterfly, hummingbirds, and native bees are all big fans of Ceanothus species as well.
Some popular cultivars include "Concha" ' "Dark Star","Joyce Coulter", "Julia Phelps", "Ray Hartman", and the lovely Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, pictured on the right, which is local to our area.