How to care for california lilac shrubs

Written by bridget kelly | 13/05/2017
How to care for california lilac shrubs
The California lilac is easy to grow in warmer zones. (michaelpuche/iStock/Getty Images)

The California lilac (Ceanothus spp.) is an evergreen, drought-tolerant shrub. It bears deeply fragrant lavender flowers and has an easy-care nature. With over 50 species to choose from, the gardener can find a variety of California lilac growth habits, from small trees to groundcovers. In the UK, California lilac shrubs are best grown in the South West and on all of the Gulf Stream affected west coast of Great Britain. This is a plant that is so easy to care for, it develops problems if pampered too much.

Plant the California lilac in well-drained soil. It is prone to root rot and should never have water sitting at the roots. Mix 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) of compost or peat moss into heavy soils to help with drainage problems.

Avoid the use of mulch around the California lilac. Mulch conserves soil moisture -- an environment that can kill this plant.

Water the California lilac only during periods of extreme drought and then water to a depth of 15 cm (6 inches). Allow the soil to dry completely before watering again. If you live in an area with cold winters, do not water at all beginning in late summer to give the California lilac a chance to harden off for winter.

Prune the California lilac to keep it to the size and shape you want. Use pruning shears to selectively prune branches that are growing out of bounds. Other than controlling the size of the plant it needs no other pruning.


The California lilac does not require fertiliser.

Things you need

  • Compost or peat moss
  • Pruning shears

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