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for A Guide to Ceanothus
Ceanothus naturally grow in temperate climates with hot dry summers and short
mild winters providing a modicum of precipitation. So, for the most part,
these wild lilacs do not require much water once they are established--or to
establish them for that matter. Our rule of thumb is to water them when
the soil is on the dry side, whether they inhabit heavy clay soils or
Using the Growing Guide Table
Because the West's wild
terrain is so diverse; from the sandy bluffs above the Pacific Ocean to the
spreading flats of the San Joaquin Valley, to the 11,000' to 14,000' peaks of the
Sierra Nevada Mountains and west to the Sonoran Desert and Great Basin, there
will be a Ceanothus suited to your environment. Whenever possible, we've
included the original parentage of each wild lilac, hybrid or selection which
will offer clues as to what the plant's cultural needs might be. For
example, Ceanothus tomentosus whose origins are from the hot, dry interior
mountains of southern California, suggests
that its baseline cultural preferences would be to be grown in a location similar to
the environment to which it is already adapted. Conversely, Ceanothus griseus
horizontalis 'Yankee Point', a selection native to the Central Coastal
areas of California, may prefer less extreme conditions than C. tomentosus;
it is more likely to be tolerant of humidity, slightly more ground water, or shadier
conditions. The 'Exposure' category in the table is also
derived from the plant's origins. 'Yankee Point', originally from
the coast, is more tolerant of shade when grown in a hot, arid
inland environment. However, while a plant's origins offers basic clues to its
culture, many Ceanothus are widely adaptable to a variety of landscape
conditions, as we have also noted in the table above. Keep in mind that in
the 'Drought Tolerance' category below, those plants listed L or M tend to be more tolerant of garden-type conditions.
Euceanothus Versus Cerastes Ceanothus
Another indicator of the
culture of each Ceanothus is its outward appearance. The genus Ceanothus is
split into two separate sections, the Euceanothus and the Cerastes group.
The plants associated with each of these sections is
distinct, and so tends to be the habit and required culture as well. Just
looking at the plants of the Cerastes Section, with reduced, leathery, widely
spaced leaves, one would guess them to be very drought tolerant.
Additionally, Cerastes Ceanothus usually has oppositely arranged (exceptions C.
insularis, C. verrucosus, C. megacarpus) which are sometimes
holly-like, with horned fruit and generally stiffer growth habit. On the
other hand, Euceanothus (literally 'True Ceanothus')
generally exhibit alternately arranged
leaves which are usually
broad, glossy or waxy, often dark green and lush-looking . The seed capsules are
ridged rather than horned.
The flowers tend to be clustered at the tip, uninterrupted by leaves.
While there are exceptions, the habit of growth tends to be upright, yet somewhat
less stiff than the Cerastes section. The Euceanothus are generally
found to enjoy slightly more humidity and moisture than the Cerastes group.
--Know each species' original, wild habitat.
--Scrutinize microclimates in your landscape.
--Match the plant
to a microclimate or landscape conditions roughly similar to its original
--Don't indulge Ceanothus with too much fertilizer or water, because they are
adapted to poor soils and
sunny, dry locations.
--Plant and establish them during the wet, cool season.
--Water them when the sub-surface soil is on the dry side.
--Establish them in this way through their second or third dry season. But, if
they need water over future dry seasons, by all means give it to them, in
the cool of the day, not when the temperatures are scorching.
If, your Ceanothus is to
be planted in among existing garden plants:
--Be certain they have compatible water requirements.
-- If existing plants receive regular irrigation, plant Ceanothus on top of a mound or swale to increase water drainage.
--Plant on the outskirts or high side of a sprinkler system.
--Look for the symptoms of over-watering: excessive yellowing and dropping
leaves, or black spots on leaves or stems, and relocate Ceanothus if necessary.
to Guide to Ceanothus