Ray Hartman California Lilac (Ceanothus x ‘Ray Hartman’)
Ray Hartman California Lilac
You haven’t seen how lovely blue can be until you’ve seen a Ray Hartman California Lilac (Ceanothus x ‘Ray Hartman’) in full bloom! When this broad-leaved evergreen shrub is covered in puffy clusters of blue flowers! It originated by chance as a cultivated hybrid between Ceanothus arboreus and Ceanothus griseus in Ray Hartman’s garden in the 1940s. It was released under the name ‘Blue Sky’ in 1954, before earning its discoverer’s name later on. As one of the founders of the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation, you can see why he was happy to lend his name to this fantastic shrub!
That’s because when late winter and early spring come around, you’ll be in for a real treat! The Ray Hartman California Lilac bursts with 6-inch spikes covered in petite blue flowers that are sweetly fragrant! Add a bit of romance and whimsy to your garden. Even when not in bloom, this plant’s evergreen leaves still fill any landscape with rich color. They grow to be about 6 inches and are a deep, glossy green. They also have a lovely ridged texture that creates a hardy appearance and brings a welcomed layer of interest.
This plant is drought tolerant and requires little maintenance once established. So, you will have plenty of time to tend to the rest of your garden or relax with a cup of tea and watch what birds and butterflies stop by for visit. Hardy throughout USDA growing zones 9 and 10, this larger shrub gets 12-20 feet tall and 10-20 feet wide, but you can prune it to any size you need to suit your landscape!
And don’t be surprised to see winged wildlife stopping by for a nectar treat. These flowers are quite alluring to bees, birds, and butterflies. With all the attention this plant will get from pollinators, your garden ecosystem is sure to thrive. Hummingbirds and songbirds are both attracted to these blooms. Hummers arrive while in California Lilac is in flower, and songbirds come for the nesting and seedheads!
Leave the lower branches on for a pretty privacy screen, fragrant backdrop, or year-round hedge. You can even train Ray Hartman into a multi-trunked tree form for a fantastic specimen! Plant one where you’d like a little shade or where you can sit and watch the butterflies flutter by. This beauty would also make a great addition nearby or add height to your butterfly garden!
Plant as the crown jewel to a dry river bed, a Rock Garden focal point, or add shade to a xeric garden where these shrubs won’t care if the soil is poor and the sun is relentless! California Lilacs are also on defensible fire-wise landscaping plant lists!
Ceanothus are very low maintenance once established and don’t need any coddling. They’ll do their best in lean soils that have perfect drainage. Thriving in full sun and poor soil, they like just enough water to get established. Then, they truly thrive on low water. They require no summer water once established! Tolerating clay, saline, and rocky soil just fine! Prune right after blooming to remove spent flowers and to keep your plant looking even and full.
Bees, butterflies, and birds love the blue blossoms of the Ray Hartman California Lilac!
|Common name||Ray Hartman California Lilac|
|Botanical name||Ceanothus x 'Ray Hartman'|
|Plant type||Broad-Leaved Evergreen|
|Height||12 - 20 ft.|
|Width||10 - 20 ft.|
|Sunlight||Full Sun, Partial Shade|
|Moisture||Low Once Established|
|Pruning time||After Flowering|