Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Ceanothus – Californian Lilac.
The Ceanothus comes from the southern part of the State of California in
USA and because of its fragrant blue flowers it has the common name of
California Lilac, although of course it is not related to the Syringa,
or true Lilac. It is quite fast growing and as a wild tree can reach
some 20 feet in height, but most cultivated varieties are considerable
smaller growing to only a few feet and they are grown as bushes with
some being Prostrate or mound forming. These fast growing, evergreen
shrubs are quite short lived lasting only 10 – 15 years, but they give a
fantastic display of flowers in late April to early June that are
usually shades of blue with some varieties having white, or pink
Ceanothus prefer to be planted in full sun as planting in the shade may
result in a loss of flowers and Plants also need a sheltered spot away
from strong, cold, winter winds that can kill the plants and indeed any
strong winds may scorch the leaves. Conditions need to be right as
regards water as well. In particular they do not like to have wet roots,
especially during winter, on the other hand they do not respond well to
being too dry either. Their leaves may well turn tallow as a result of
either problem and yellowing can also occur due to mineral deficiency in
poor soils. Ceanthus are otherwise, quite a hardy, Evergreen plant, here
in the UK and a popular choice for smaller gardens. However, when
planting a pot grown specimen you need to make sure that it is in the
right place to start with as they do not like being dug up and
transplanted at a later date. If you must move one, it is best done when
they are still small as they have a deep Taproot, and they should be
moved during their dormant period in the Winter, well before their Buds
begin to break in Spring.
Having said all that, Ceanothus are a reliable garden plant and are not
prone to many pests, or diseases, with the exception of scale insects
and Honey Fungus. Nor are any parts of the plants toxic. Indeed,
Ceanothus are used medicinally for some Bronchial Complaints such as
Asthma, Whooping Cough, Tonsillitis and Sore Throats.
They are also great for Wildlife because Butterflys will be drawn to
them from all around as will Deer which can be a problem if they can get
to them as they like to eat them and they can cause a lot of damage.
Most Ceanothus do not respond well to hard pruning especially into older
wood and if pruning is done, care must be taken to do it at the correct
time of year as it does vary from one species to another. However, with
care, they can be trained to grow up walls and fences.