Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’ This is a California native plant. It is best planted next to a Western Red bud for great Spring color. The bush needs to be trimmed back hard, yearly to prevent the bush looking woody and straggly.
California Lilacs, or Ceanothus, are some of our most fragrant and colorful shrubs here in California. They are also evergreen and very drought tolerant. The myth of Ceanothus being short lived is primarily spread by incompetent gardeners that insist on drip irrigation (only the use drip for the first year to get the plant established), summer water and soil amendments. California native plants hate all three. Expect a 20-25 year life from your Ceanothus in most gardens. We have many Mountain Lilacs in the ground here that still look good after thirty years.
When trying to grow this plant away from its natural habitat, it is best to plant it up on top of a mound. The minimum mound is 12 inches. A Ceanothus needs to keep its crown dry. This is the part between the roots and the trunk. I have had bad luck growing it on flat surfaces. It does best on slopes and mounds.
Water: It only needs a few inches of water a year. It does best in dry rocky locations. It is very drought tolerant, growing in full sun, in our 115 degree summers.
Pests: Ceanothus are notorious for being loved by deer. However, this is not entirely true. Without water or fertilizing a Ceanothus looks much less appetizing to a deer.
Proprogation: If you can’t find a source for Dark Star Ceanothus consider it’s alternative, C. ‘Julia Phelps’, or propagate it from hardwood stem cuttings with applied bottom heat or plant from stratified seed.