Las Pilitas Nursery

California Native Plants are all we grow!

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
Fri. & Sat. from 9am-4pm
8331 Nelson Way
Escondido, CA 92026
Tues. to Sat. from 9am-4pm

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This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

California Lilacs (Ceanothus spp.)

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, summer water and soil amendments. Drought tolerant California native plants hate all three (except irrigation the first summer). 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.

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. Some species are still viewed as candy in areas where deer populations are high. But many are OK in low or
medium deer areas. If you have high deer problems stick with your local Ceanothus species and whatever you do, don't water (except for the first summer)!

For more information on deer problems see the Deer Page. A note about yellow leaves on Ceanothus. One of the 'bugs' on Ceanothus is the Silk Moth.
You can look at the approximate  Ceanothus flowering times here.

Southern California Mountain Lilacs

Central and Northern California Mountain Lilacs

Ceanothus Hybrids

Ceanothus Blue Jeans, Holly Leaf Mountain Lilac

Blue Jeans has small holly-like leaves and blueish purple flowers. It is a rounded shrub with arching branches. It grows about 6 ft tall. Blue Jeans likes full sun, but tolerates shade.
Deer don't like it much; people seem to like it.

A short video of Ceanothus Blue Jeans

Ceanothus Blue Jeans is fairly safe from deer and makes a decent small hedge.

Ceanothus Celestial Blue

Celestial Blue is a gorgeous Ceanothus. This large bush is loaded down with huge deep blue fragrant flower clusters in spring. The buds are reddish. This Ceanothus hybrid can have a very long flowering season. On good years it seems to only stop flowering in the coldest part of winter.

A short Video about Ceanothus Celestial Blue


Ceanothus Concha, California Mountain Lilac

Concha grows about 4 ft tall and has very dark blue flowers, tolerates alkali soil and drought conditions and will grow in most populated areas of California.

A short video about Ceanothus Concha


A planting of Ceanothus, Mountain lilacs.
1-Ceanothus Concha-2-Ceanothus Julia Phelps(just finished flowering)-3-Ceanothus impressus nipomensis-4-Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon-5-Ceanothus oliganthus(flowered a month ago in March)-6-Pinus muricata-7-Ceanothus Mountain Haze-8-Ceanothus LT Blue-9-Ceanothus Blue Jeans(flowered a month ago)-10-Ceanothus Celestial Blue-11-Ceanothus Remote Blue-12-Ceanothus impressus-13-Ceanothus Snow Ball(flowered a month ago, and opps has a 12 on it)-14-Ceanothus Frosty Blue
Ceanothus Dark Star in Morro Bay 100 feet from the water. - grid24_6

Ceanothus Dark Star, Small Leaf Mountain Lilac

Dark star is a showy Ceanothus that prefers coastal climates to interior areas. It has tiny leaves and round flower clusters. Dark star grows 6 ft tall and eight ft wide.
We do not grow this plant as it regularly dies on customers. Sad for plant, sad for customer.

Many Ceanothuses can be used as a hedge.

Ceanothus Frosty Blue

Frosty Blue has deep blue flowers that fade with age. It has shiny bright green foliage. It grows fast to about 6 ft tall and is very drought tolerant.

A short video about Ceanothus Frosty Blue

Ceanothus Frosty Blue as royal blue. - grid24_12
Yes these are all Ceanothus Frosty Blue
Ceanothus Frosty Blue flower will turn deep blue on cold years. - grid24_12

Ceanothus Julia Phelps, Small Leaf Mountain Lilac

Julia Phelps grows 6 to 8 ft tall. It has tiny, crinkly dark green leaves and blue flowers. It will survive without water on only 9 inches of rainfall, AS LONG as the summers are cool.

A short video about Ceanothus Julia Phelps, Small Leaf Mountain Lilac .

Ceanothus Julia Phelps has pink buds and royal blue flowers. - grid24_12

Ceanothus Joyce Coulter, Creeping Mountain Lilac

With a little pruning, this floriferous Ceanothus grows to only about 2 ft high but about 8 ft wide. Prune the sides and you have a hedge plant. It is OK in mild deer areas, grows well in hot areas, is drought tolerant and fast.

A short video about Ceanothus Joyce Coulter

Ceanothus Joyce Coulter in a San Francisco garden.

Ceanothus L.T. Blue, White Bark Mountain Lilac

L.T. Blue is a hybrid between C. leucodermis (L.) and C. thyrsiflorus (T.), has white bark, smooth shiny green leaves, and blue flowers. L.T. Blue is very drought tolerant and grows about 6 to 8 ft tall.

Ceanothus L.T. Blue is one of our Ceanothus introductions.


Ceanothus Mills Glory, Holly-Leaved California Mountain Lilac

Mills Glory is a low sprawling Ceanothus reaching only 2 to 4 ft tall. It has small crinkly holy leaves and blue puffball flowers. It likes full sun on the coast and a little shade in the interior, and is believed to be a hybrid between Ceanothus purpureus and Ceanothus gloriosus. Deer don't like it much.

Part of a short movie about Ceanothus Mill's Glory. This is the part in full shade. The full sun one was missed. Maybe Next year? It's impressive that it even flowered in full shade, as most Ceanothus do not.

A thirty year old Ceanothus Mills Glory. No water and in a yard filled with weeds. - grid24_12
A 30 year old Ceanothus Mills Glory slammed against a fence, no water, no care, not even weed control.

Ceanothus Remote Blue, Bush Lilac

Remote blue grows 4 to 6 ft tall, with very shiny foliage and light blue flowers. This hybrid makes an excellent lush-looking hedge without water. However, it can also tolerate a little indirect water.

A short movie about Ceanothus Remote Blue.

Remote Blue Ceanothus has sky blue flowers(yes the sky looks like that) - grid24_12
Ceanothus Remote Blue with a Brown Elfin butterfly. - grid24_12

Ceanothus Ray Hartman, Mountain Lilac

Ray Hartman has huge shiny leaves and large blue flowers. This tall hybrid of Ceanothus arboreus and Ceanothus griseus grows about 20 ft tall, with very straight erect flower clusters. Deer like it. So, don't plant it in high deer areas without a fence.

A short video of Ceanothus Ray Hartman. It may need to fully load before it plays.

Ceanothus Ray Hartman as street tree in Northern California. Where it's cool in the sumer this works. - grid24_12
Ceanothus Ray Hartman in a mall parking lot, adobe soil, drip irrigation, still alive.

Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon, Blue Mountain Lilac

A short video about Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon.
Wheeler Canyon is a sprawling shrub 6 ft tall but 8 to 10 ft wide, has small crinkly leaves and small abundant blue flower clusters, and likes full sun.

A short video about Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon Blue Mtn. Lilac.

Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon, a mountain lilac from Southern California. - grid24_6
Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon Blue Mtn. Lilac
Ceanothus Wheeler Canyon, Blue Mountain Lilac works well in a conventional garden.

Ceanothus Tassajara Blue with no extra water in Escondido. - grid24_12

Ceanothus Tassajara Blue, Mountain Lilac

Tassajara Blue has dark green leaves and blue flowers, grows to around 8 ft tall, and is probably a hybrid between Ceanothus arboreus and Ceanothus griseus. Tassajara Blue grows fast, is fairly garden tolerant as well as drought tolerant, and doesn't mind being pruned, if you want a more formal hedge.
Desert Mallow and Mt. Lilac, Ceanothus, work well in a California  garden - grid24_6
Desert Mallow and Ceanothus flower at about the same time.