These Lilac species are good for southern California gardens. However, they are just a place to start. Not all may grow in your garden and many from central and northern 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, especially the southern species. 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 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!
This Ceanothus makes a nice small tree or open shrub up to 12 ft tall. It is a very tough plant. It grows in full sun in the high temperatures of southern California. It is also cold tolerant and drought tolerant. It likes clay. Deer don't like it much.