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Want bees, butterflies to visit your garden? Grow this bright California plant

Ceanothus’s blue blooms have a sweet fragrance and attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.
Ceanothus’s blue blooms have a sweet fragrance and attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

California lilac

Ceanothus

Planting areas: Widely distributed, from coastal scrub lands to dry, sunny hillsides

Size: Up to 6 feet high and 8 feet wide

Bloom season: Spring

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: None

Water needs: Water regularly the first year to establish the plant, then drought-tolerant.

Snapshot: Ceanothus, also known as California lilac, is the envy of every garden for many different reasons.

These versatile shrubs are fast-growing evergreens that are easy to care for and require very little water once established. Plus, they produce stunningly beautiful blooms ranging from cobalt blue to violet in color that have a sweet fragrance and attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects; some ceanothus flowers even come in white and pink.

Ceanothus varieties can be sprawling or low to the ground, or grow tall and hedge-like.

Ceanothus will grow in a range of different soil types, and most varieties are alkaline tolerant. Plants prefer well-drained soil.

Gardeners can expect a lifespan of at least 20 to 25 years, as long as they refrain from putting their ceanothus plants on drip irrigation, avoid frequent summer watering and do not use soil amendments or fertilizer. The shrubs prefer to fend for themselves, just as they do when growing in the wild.

A good time to plant ceanothus here on the Central Coast is in late fall to early winter.

Got a gardening question?

In San Luis Obispo, call 805-781-5939; Arroyo Grande, 805-473-7190, and Templeton, 805-434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or email us at anrmgslo@ucanr.edu. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 805-781-5939.

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