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. Update: Bert's Memorial Open House will be May 24.

Central and Northern California Lilacs

These Lilac species are good for Central and Northern California gardens. However, they are just a place to start. Not all may grow in your garden and many from Southern California may grow just fine as well. Make sure you have the correct soil type for the Ceanothus you like. Of course, it is always better to plant your local Lilacs, if possible.

California Lilacs, or Ceanothus, are some of our most fragrant and colorful shrubs here in California. They are also evergreen and very drought tolerant. They make excellent hedges!

The myth of Ceanothus being short lived is primarily spread by incompetent gardeners that insist on drip irrigation, summer water and soil amendments. California native plants hate all three. Expect a 20-25 year life from your Ceanothus in most gardens.

Ceanothus are notorious for being loved by deer. However, this is not entirely true. Without water or fertilizer 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 after the first season.

Ceanothus cuneatus, Buckbrush

Buckbrush is native around our Santa Margarita nursery and most of Central and Northern California, even up into Oregon.. It is very drought tolerant, growing in full sun, in our 115 degree summers. It has blue or white flowers and tiny shiny dark green leaves. It is very cold tolerant. It will grow in sand or clay. Deer don't like it much to eat but they like to hide in it to sleep. It grows 3 to 6 ft tall.

A small movie of Ceanothus cuneatus, Buckbrush.

Leptodactylon californicum, Prickly Phlox, is shown here in its natural habitat, with Ceanothus cuneatus in the foreground, Adenostoma fasciculatum behind it, and the Prickly Phlox almost at the top of the ridge. I cringe when someone says California native plants are brown and ugly. Put a non-native plant on this hillside, do not water it, and see if it looks better.

Don't you wish you were a bee or a butterfly? The Sierra Buckbrush is wonderful. - grid24_12
This Buck Brush is blue! and comes from the central Sierras. VERY fast, fragrant and the native insects love.

Ceanothus foliosus, Wavy Leaf Mountain lilac

Wavy leaf mountain Lilac has lots of small blue flowers and tiny bright green crinkly leaves. It will grow in clay or serpentine. Wavy leaf mountain Lilac likes shade in the interior and full sun along the coast. It grows about 4 ft tall .

A short video about Ceanothus foliosus, Wavy Leaf Mountain lilac

 Ceanothus foliosus, Wavy Leaf Mountain lilac flowers. - grid24_12
Ceanothus foliosus, Wavy Leaf Mountain lilac loves heavy, serpentine soils.
 Ceanothus foliosus, Wavy Leaf Mountain lilac. - grid24_12

Ceanothus gloriosus Hearts Desire groundcover Mountain Lilac sprawls along at about one tall. - grid24_6

Ceanothus gloriosus, Hearts Desire Groundcover Mountain Lilac

This low growing Ceanothus grows 1 to 2 ft tall. It is native to the coast of northern California yet it tolerates the dry arid climates of the interior. It likes a little shade in the interior and full sun along the coast. It likes sandy soil but will also tolerate clay. Deer don't eat it much.

A short video about Ceanothus Heart's Desire. It may need to load fully before it will play.

Ceanothus gloriosus Heart's desire makes a great small mounding groundcover. Excellent as a sidewalk border or if up against a wall,as shown here,  foundation plant. - grid24_12

An old picture of Ceanothus gloriosus exaltatus Emily Brown - grid24_6

Ceanothus gloriosus exaltatus, Emily Brown

Emily brown is at home on the coast. If grown inland, it needs a little shade. It is fairly deer proof. It has dark blue flowers. It grows about a few ft tall. Emily brown will grow in sand or clay.
Ceanothus gloriosus exaltatus Emily Brown


Ceanothus gloriosus porrectus, Mt. Vision Ceanothus

This beautiful Ceanothus grows 1 to 3 ft tall. It likes sand and full sun along the coast. It needs a little shade inland. Deer don't like it much. It has very neat holly leaves and blue leaves. It is only found in Marin county.

A short video about Ceanothus gloriosus porrectus, Mt. Vision Ceanothus

Ceanothus gloriosus porrectus, Mt. Vision Ceanothus - grid24_24
An old picture of Ceanothus  gloriosus growing over rocks next to a brick patio. - grid24_12
Ceanothus gloriosus gloriosus, Holly Ceanothus Holly Ceanothus likes to be near the coast. It doesn't do well in the interior. It reaches only a foot tall. It likes sand and sun.
This picture of Ceanothus Louis Edmunds was take in the early 1980's. - grid24_6

Ceanothus griseus, Carmel Ceanothus

Carmel Ceanothus is a small tree or large shrub, growing 3 to 6 ft tall. It likes full sun. It will grow in sand or clay. It has light blue flowers.
Louis Edmunds Ceanothus - grid24_6

Ceanothus griseus, Louis Edmunds, Carmel Mountain Lilac

Louis Edmunds Carmel Mountain Lilac grows 3 to 6 ft tall. Deer love it. It likes temperatures above 20 deg F. It grows well along the coast. It does well in sand as well as clay, it has blue flowers. We've not grown this for quite awhile.

Ceanothus griseus horizontalis, Yankee Point, Carmel Mountain Lilac

Yankee point makes a great fast growing groundcover. It has shiny leaves and blue flowers. It is not cold tolerant. It grows well under seaside conditions. It will grow well in sand or clay

A short movie about Ceanothus Yankee Point.

Ceanothus griseus horizontalis,  Yankee Point, espaliered by deer.  - grid24_6

Ceanothus hearstiorum, Hearst Lilac 

This is a very low growing Ceanothus only reaching 2 to 3 in inches tall. It does well along the coast. It is fairly drought tolerant. It will do OK in the interior of California with a little simulated fog drip and part shade. It has blue flowers. It likes clay soil.

A short video of Ceanothus hearstiorum, San Simeon Ceanothus and Hearst's Ceanothus.

Ceanothus hearstiorum - grid24_24

Ceanothus impressus impressus fragrant flowers - grid24_12

Ceanothus impressus impressus, Santa Barbara Mountain Lilac

grows 3 to 8 ft tall. It does well in sand, will tolerant clay loam. It has tiny crinkly leaves and blue flowers.
Santa Barbara Lilac is fast and showy in most coastal California gardens.

Ceanothus impressus nipomoensis, Arroyo Grande Lilac

Arroyo Grande Lilac grows 3 to 6 ft tall. It likes sandy soil. It likes a little shade in the interior and full sun along the coast. It has red-blue flowers.

A short video about Ceanothus impressus nipomensis, Arroyo Grande Lilac

This California Lilac grows between Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria
The Ceanothus impressus nipomensis has the weird red blue green color that also shows up in Ceanothus Celestial Blue. - grid24_12
Deer brush can be a nice little bush. - grid24_12

Ceanothus integerrimus, Deer Brush

Deer brush grows 3 to 6 ft tall. It likes full sun along the coast and part shade in the interior. It has white flowers. It likes clay or sand.
Ceanothus jepsonii, Musk Bush is another low growing Ceanothus. It is 2 to 3 ft tall and equally wide. It likes full sun on the coast and a little shade inland. It grows in clay and serpentine soils. It has blue flowers.
Ceanothus lemmonii has a grey look to it with green and blue mixed in. - grid24_12
Ceanothus lemmonii, Trinity Ceanothus grows to reach 3 ft tall. It has blue flowers and white bark. It is native to Northern California and Northern Central California. It need good drainage.
Ceanothus leucodermis, White bark Ceanothus in the wild - grid24_6
Ceanothus leucodermis, Whitebark Ceanothus grows 8 ft tall. It has light blue flowers and shiny green leaves. It is drought tolerant and cold tolerant. This is the mother plant for our beautiful L.T. Blue Ceanothus hybrid.
Sorry, an old picture of Maritime mountain lilac in full flower. This was in a landscape south of Cambria with no water, full bluff exposure. The plants were blasted by wind and salt spray. (The first week the irrigation flags we were using to mark the plants blew off, just the wire stake left.) Behind are the plants  Salvia spathacea and  Baccharis Pigeon Point. The Ceanothus maritimus is covering the ground only a few inches tall. - grid24_12

Ceanothus maritimus,
Maritime Lilac

Maritime mountain lilac grows only few inches tall. It is native along the bluffs and therefore is quite at home under seaside conditions. However it also requires the fog drip and mild climates of coastal areas. It has tiny little succulent leaves and blue flowers.

Ceanothus papillosus, Wart Stem Mountain Lilac

Wart-stem Ceanothus grows 3 to 9 ft tall. It likes clay and serpentine soils. It has blue flowers. It likes more moisture and con often be found near seasonal creaks.

Ceanothus purpureus, Hollyleaf Ceanothus 

Hollyleaf Ceanothus has blue flowers and holly leaves. It grows 3 to 6 ft tall and will grow in clay or serpentine. Deer don't like it much.

Ceanothus oliganthus oliganthus, Hairy-Leaf Ceanothus

Hairy-Leaf Ceanothus is a tall Ceanothus reaching 6 to18 ft tall. It is found along the coast of southern California. It likes sand and full sun.

A short video about Ceanothus oliganthus.

Ceanothus oliganthus blue lilac bush

This Coastal buckbrush, Ceanothus ramulosus fascicularis has a lot of fragrance and blue flowers. - grid24_6

Ceanothus ramulosus fascicularis, Coastal Buckbrush 

Coastal Buckbrush grows 3 to 9 ft tall. It likes full sun. in can tolerate salt spray and it likes sandy soil. Deer don't like it much if it is in its native range.
A low form of Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, Blueblossom or Blue blossom Ceanothus - grid24_6

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, Blue Blossom mountain lilac

It is happiest in northern California. However, its range does go into Central California as far south as Gaviota Pass.  It likes part sun or full sun.
An old picture of Ceanothus roderickii - grid24_6

Ceanothus roderickii, Pine Hill Ceanothus

Pine Hill Ceanothus grows only a few inches tall. It has fat little leaves tightly packed together and white flowers. We grew it for years but it finally succumbed to our wonderful climate.


There are about 20 species of Catocala, Underwing Moths in California. I'm not sure which one is on the Ceanothus Snowball flower. The larva live on Oak trees.  - grid24_6

Ceanothus rigidus, Snowball

Snow ball is a low growing mountain Lilac reaching only 2 or 3 ft tall. It has white flowers and small holly leaves. Deer don't like it much.

A short video about Ceanothus rigidus Snowball

Ceanothus rigidus Snowball in flower. Picture a fruit orchid in full flower, but only a meter tall.
Ceanothus rigidus Snowball White Monterey Lilac flowers - grid24_12

Ceanothus spinosus,  Red-Heart Mountain Lilac. flowers - grid24_12

Ceanothus spinosus, Red-Heart Mountain Lilac

Red-Heart Mountain Lilac is found along the coast ranges from San Luis Obispo county south into southern California. It has light blue flowers and smooth shiny bright green leaves. It grows from 6 to 12 ft tall. It doesn't like garden condition.
Ceanothus Skylark is really green with blue flowers and will grow throughout most of California. Skylark makes a nice little native hedge or border planting. - grid24_12

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, Skylark Blue Mountain Lilac

Skylark has dark green shiny leaves and blue flowers. It grows from 3 to 6 ft tall. It will grow in clay and can tolerate deer browsing.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens, Low Blue Blossom

Low blue blossom grows only to 3 ft at the most and 3 to 9 ft wide. It makes an excellent ground cover. It grows well in sand or clay. It will grow in full sun along the coast and part shade inland. It has blue flowers.

A short movie about Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens Low Blue Blossom

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens looks great in a north slope or part shade garden - grid24_12
Ceanothus thrysiflorus repens

Ceanothus Snoflurry is a White flower mountain lilac - grid24_12

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, Snow Flurry, White Flowered Mountain Lilac

Snow flurry grows 3 to 9 ft tall. It has huge white flower clusters and large juicy green leaves. It will grow in clay. It doesn't like cold temps. It would prefer temperatures above 20 deg F.
A different looking Mountain Lilac - grid24_6

Ceanothus tomentosus, Woolly Leaf Mountain Lilac 

Woolly Leaf Mountain Lilac grows 3 to 6 ft tall. It likes clay soil. It grows well in full sun along the coast and part shade inland. It is very drought tolerant.

An old picture of Ceanothus velutinus- Snowbrush Ceanothus up  byJune lake. - grid24_12

Ceanothus velutinus velutinus

This Ceanothus grows 3 to 9 ft tall. It grows in full sun on the eastern side of the sierras. It is very cold tolerant and drought tolerant.