Ceanothus are California's wild lilac. A native evergreen shrub which is drought tolerant and spring time showy with lavender-blue 6" spikes. Belonging to the Rhamnaceae (Buckhorns) family, Ceanothus shrubs, in general are drought tolerant once established and are found frequently growing in California's native chaparral. There are many different varieties of Ceanothus in form and blooming lavender-blue colors. Ceanothus bloom winter to spring and are simply stunning. Three of my favorite Ceanothus are Ceanothus concha, Ceanothus dark star, and Ceanothus Ray Hartman.
Officially a shrub, Ceanothus Ray Harman variety has an upright tendency. It is one of the Ceanothus varieties that can be trained into a mature small tree, sometimes reaching up to 15' high and 10'-15" across. It does best in Zones 8-9.
In the above photo, my Ceanothus Ray Hartman is planted close to my soft-hued brown stucco wall for a pleasing backdrop. I planted four Ceanothus Ray Hartman in my garden a few years ago, and they grow quickly.
A few tips to share with you in creating a Ceanothus Ray Hartman tree in your garden. I purchased one-gallon size plants from the extraordinary California native nursery, Tree of Life Nursery. Tree of Life Nursery is located about 7 miles east of San Juan Capistrano on Ortega Highway. If you are serious about introducing more California natives in your yard and garden, Tree of Life Nursery is the place to go. Tree of Life Nursery offers over 20 varieties of ceanothus, as well as many other popular natives, and lesser known natives.
If your intention is to shape your Ceanothus Ray Hartman upright into a small tree, purchase Ceanothus Ray Hartman plants that have a nice single stem. Plant in a sunny spot with ample room. Water regularly to give it a good start, and then taper off once established. Prepare to support your Ceanothus Ray Hartman with stakes as it begins to grow and fill out.
Let your Ceanothus Ray Hartman grow and establish itself for a few years. After the second year, begin to trim bottom branches off of its main trunk slowly, at three month intervals. Nip or prune 6' off of the tips of some of your top branches and start shaping your tree. Trim as necessary to shape your tree into a nice upright tree form. This type of pruning encourages your Ceanothus Ray Hartman to grow upward and fill out into a beautiful wild lilac tree.
Please share if you are familar with the beauty of the Ceanothus varieties. Please comment if you have started introducing native plants into your garden.
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