California Lilac (Ceanothus gloriosus)

California Lilac

Don’t miss this hot plant! Garden designers love featuring the amazing deep blue flowers on low-maintenance shrubs in designs for their high-end clients. No wonder, California Lilac (Ceanothus gloriosus) is considered one of the best of this diverse family of 60 species of native, nitrogen-fixing, drought-tolerant plants!

Also known as the Point Reyes Wild Lilac, this Ceanothus family member is low-growing, versatile, and a very xeric plant! And these days, the popularity of these stunning, hardy West Coast natives is skyrocketing. They truly are easy care!

In the spring, the plant is covered in reddish-purple buds that will mature into a mass of rich, deep blue flower clusters. The flowers are absolutely stunning from a distance and when studied up close in the garden. There are not many plants that match the intense blue flower display of the Ceanothus in the spring. The intense spring display of light blue flower power is almost unmatched in nature. Cut a few branches for indoor tablescapes, as well.

People are really waking up to the design potential of xeriscape natives and you’ll love watching your water bill drop after planting these water-wise plants! You’ll also love supporting local pollinators, butterflies, and Hummingbirds with the nectar from the outstanding deep blue, long-lasting blooms. Mockingbirds, finches, and quail love California Lilac for both the cover it provides and the seeds it produces. Deer, on the other hand, seem to find it pretty unappetizing, especially when it’s grown in a water-wise manner.

But of course, you’ll also adore the ornamental features of the Point Reyes Wild Lilac and its glossy green leaves that stick around all year long, even when not in bloom. The interesting foliage is thick, elliptical to nearly round, 2-5 cm long, margin heavily toothed, dark green, pale, and hairy beneath.

Planting and Application:

Use the California Lilac as an excellent focal point in the landscape to capture the eye for up to 4 weeks in the spring. When used as a specimen, it can be pruned to maintain any width you desire. Plus you’ll enjoy pollinator-friendly living groundcover and flowering mulch to fill in the wide open and bare spots throughout the Sun garden! It is excellent low-growing en masse plantings, and perfect for sand dunes and steep coastal banks.

Californa Lilac can be an important plant to help protect your property from the ravages of wildfire because 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. They can assess your property and support your development of a fire-wise landscaping plan.

With its wide-spreading nature, California Lilac naturalizes very well. They are especially striking when planted in mass plantings in the home or commercial settings. Use it as a bird-friendly, water-wise fill plant to cover an open area or as a Rock Garden focal point. For quick fill, plant the California Lilac 5 to 6 feet on center and let it fill in together naturally. No more trying to make that eroding hillside look good, or trying to mow that dangerous slope!

  • Beautiful Deep Blue to Lavender Flowers
  • Sweetly Fragrant Early Spring Blooms
  • Glossy Dark Green Leaves
  • Easy to Grow Broad-Leaved Evergreen
  • Drought-Tolerant Native Plants
  • Vital Nectar & Pollen Resource for Pollinators
  • Perfect for Xeriscaping & Firescaping Gardens
  • Great Groundcover Shrub – Spreads Wider Than Tall
  • Versatile in the Landscape

Tips for Care:

This California native can be easily grown in most of the populated areas from San Francisco to San Diego. 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.

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! Ceanothus are very low maintenance once established and they don’t need – or especially like – coddling or fussing. In fact, too much water and too-rich soil is a surefire way to kill them!

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!

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.

These are members of the unique family of plants that fix nitrogen in the soil, limiting the need for lots of fertilizer while boosting the health of other plants around where California Lilac grows!

  • Full Sun & Partial Shade Lover
  • Moderate to Low Moisture Needs Once Established
  • Handles Any Well-Drained Clay, Sand, Poor Soil & Rocky Soil with Ease
  • Tolerant of Coastal & Saline Conditions
  • Deer Seldom Bother It
  • Grows Without Supplemental Water Once Established
  • Unique Nitrogen-Fixing Plant Family

California Lilac (Ceanothus gloriosus) Details

Common name California Lilac
Botanical name Ceanothus gloriosus
Plant type Broad-Leaved Evergreen
Hardiness zone 7-10
Growth rate Medium
Height 1 - 3 ft.
Width 6 - 10 ft.
Sunlight Full Sun
Moisture Low Once Established
Soil condition Well Drained
Pollinator-friendly Yes
Pruning time After Flowering
Flower color Blue
Leaf color Glossy