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.

Southern California Lilacs, Ceanothus spp.

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!

Ceanothus arboreus has big flowers - grid24_12

Ceanothus arboreus, Island Mountain Lilac

Island Mountain Lilac looks like a Ceanothus on steroids. It has huge leaves and huge flower clusters on a plant that grows to 20 ft. It is really more like a small tree. The flowers are light dusky blue. It is a fast grower, reaching its full size in 5 to 10 years. unfortunately deer love it and it doesn't tolerate cold temps (below around 10F). It is very drought tolerant. So, don't over water it! In most areas just water the first year to get it established. It will grow in clay or decomposed granite!

Ceanothus arboreus, Owls wood Blue, Island Mountain Lilac

Owlswood blue Island Mountain Lilac grows fast reaching 6 to 12 ft tall. It has blue flowers and large green leaves. It will grow in clay, decomposed granite or beach sand.. Deer like to eat it. It does well along the coast and doesn't like cold temps.

A short movie about Ceanothus arboreus Owlswood Blue.

Ceanothus arboreus Owlswood blue at dusk taken with flash. - grid24_12
On good years(cool summers and good rainfall) the flowers are large, on bad years the plant looks good, just has smaller flowers.

Ceanothus crassifolius

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.

A short video about Ceanothus crassifolius.


Ceanothus crassifolius

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.

The exciting video about manzanita (Ceanothus crassifolius).

The more serious video about Ceanothus crassifolius


Ceanothus cyaneus, Sierra Blue Ceanothus

This San Diego Ceanothus is longer lived and can tolerate garden conditions better. It also grows to 15 ft and has the same large flower clusters.

Ceanothus foliosus, Wavy leaf  Mountain Lilac can be very showy. - grid24_6

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 of Ceanothus foliosus, Wavy Leaf Mountain lilac.


Ceanothus leucodermis, White bark Ceanothus in the wild - grid24_12

Ceanothus leucodermis, White bark mountain lilac

White bark mountain lilac 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.
This Ceanothus megacarpus X cuneatus was growing on top of a peak on South Vandenberg, south east of Lompoc. - grid24_12

Ceanothus megacarpus, Big Pod Mountain Lilac

Big pod Mountain Lilac is found along the coast of Southern California. It isn't very cold tolerant, dies at 15deg. F. The size varies greatly from 3 to 12 ft tall. It likes sand and good drainage. It is an important habitat component in the coastal sage scrub. Deer don't like it much.

Ceanothus oliganthus makes many of the hillsides blue in spring from Banning to Poway. Drought tolerant to about 6 inches of rainfall, this photo was taken after two 8 inch rainfall years, with our summer heat. - grid24_6

Ceanothus oliganthus oliganthus, Hairy-Leaf Ceanothus

Hairy-Leaf Ceanothus is a tall Ceanothus reaching 6 to 18 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 oliganthus close up of flower. - grid24_12

Ceanothus sorediatus (C. oliganthus var. sorediates), Jim Brush Native in the coast ranges of California from Humbolt county to Orange county. In full shade Jim brush is 20 ft tall, with only a few very erect branches. In full sun it makes a large round shrub similar to C. cuneatus. The flowers are a very pale blue.
This is the little Ceanothus we planted twenty years ago. - grid24_6
The little Ceanothus sorediatus, Jim Brush when we planted it in fun sun in the early 1980's.

A short movie about Ceanothus oliganthus sorediatus

This Ceanothus sorediatus in bloom
Ceanothus-sorediatus-klamath, this form comes from northern California - grid24_12
This is the Klamath form of Ceanothus sorediatus, Jim Brush

Ceanothus otayensis plants are small. This one is years old and about 20 cm high. - grid24_12

Ceanothus otayensis, Otay Mountain Lilac

Otay Mountain Lilac grows 3 to 5 ft tall. It grows in the chaparral in southern California. It has very small crinkly leaves and white flowers.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, Big Sur Mountain Lilac 

Big Sur mountain lilac grows 6 to 15 ft tall. It does well along the coast and in areas where temperatures do not dip below 15 deg F. It also does well in the central valley with a little extra water.

Ceanothus spinosus,  Red-Heart Mountain Lilac. flowers - grid24_12
Ceanothus spinosus,  Red-Heart Mountain Lilac  near Santa Barbara. - 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 Skylark has fragrant blue flowers! - 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 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.
Ceanothus tomentosus olivaceus has smaller leaves than regular Ceanothus tomentosus - grid24_12
Ceanothus tomentosus olivaceus, Ramona Lilac Ramona lilac likes full sun and can tolerate dry conditions. It likes well-drained soil. It has very small leaves packed tightly together on the stems. It grows 6 to 9 ft tall. Romona lilac has white flowers.
Ceanothus verrucosus flower - grid24_6
Ceanothus verrucosus, Wart-Stemmed Lilac  grows 3 to 6 ft tall, as small dark green leaves and white flowers and is drought tolerant. Wart-stemmed lilac tolerates deer and will grow in sand. It is hardy to at least -4 deg F .