How to Plant & Grow


Ceanothus, otherwise known as Californian Lilacs, are impressive shrubs and bushes that produce an abundance of colourful blooms throughout late spring to early summer or late summer to autumn (depending on the variety). If you’re looking to fill a border, then Ceanothus shrubs are up your alley!   
If you’re new to growing and caring for ceanothus and just need to know how to grow ceanothus, then you’re in the right place. Follow this guide to keep your shrub thriving.   

What We've Included

When to Plant  |  How to Plant  |  Where to Plant  |  When to Water  |  Should I feed my Ceonothus?  |  How to Deadhead  |  How to Propogate  |  Common Issues  |  FAQ's  |  Inspiration

When to Plant Ceanothus

Ceanothus can be planted in spring or autumn. This encourages their roots to grow plenty before summer or winter.   

How to Plant Ceanothus

Planting Pot-Grown Plants
Our pot-grown plants are incredibly easy to plant and grow. Whether you’re growing them directly outside into the border or into a container, our pot-grown plants are a breeze from the moment they arrive.       
- Dig a hole in the border that’s big enough to house the root system. If planting in pots, fill a large pot halfway with potting soil and then make a well in the middle. Do this until the top of the soil from the plant is just below the top of the pot.       
- Wedge in the plant by adding soil to the gaps in the hole, firming down the surface to ensure it’s in place.
- Water well and you’re done!       
Planting Root Balls  
Root balls to beginners might sound intimidating but are easy. Here’s how to do it:         
- Dig a hole in the border that’s big enough to house the root system, preferably twice or thrice its size.         
- Ensure the root ball is just below the soil.    
- Water well once planted.        

Where to Plant Ceanothus

Pick a spot in the garden that has either full sun or partial shade. Ceanothus prefers non-chalky soils, so keep this in mind when planting. The back of the border is the perfect spot for larger shrubs. Medium shrubs can be positioned in the mid-border, and mound-forming varieties can be used as ground cover.  

When to Water Ceanothus

Water Ceanothus regularly in their first few years and throughout their growing season or in periods of drought. However, after a few years when their roots have been established, they can be quite drought-tolerant and won’t need as much water (except in prolonged periods of drought).  
Varieties grown in containers will need regular watering throughout the season, as they’ll drain faster.     

Should I Feed My Ceanothus?

Ceanothus shrubs don’t necessarily need feeding, as they get all their nutrients from the soil. However, if you prefer, you can feed them with a general fertiliser in spring. You can also mulch around the plant to help it retain moisture and provide nutrients. Note that, when you mulch your ceanothus, you can leave an empty ring around the exact base of the shrub, which can help prevent rotting.  

How to Deadhead Ceanothus

Deadheading ceanothus isn’t necessary, especially since large shrubs grow so many flowers – it would take you all day! But, for smaller varieties, you can deadhead spent flowers to maintain a neat display.

How to Propagate Ceanothus

Ceanothus can be propagated by taking semi-ripe cuttings from evergreen varieties from summer to autumn. Take heel cuttings (taking a side shoot attached to a main stem, pulling it away and including a sliver of bark). Keep these cuttings in a heated propagator or somewhere warm until it’s time to plant them outdoors after the growing season.   
You can also take softwood cuttings from deciduous ceanothus varieties from late spring to mid-summer. Pick a non-flowering new stem tip and keep it somewhere warm and humid. After roughly six weeks, they will be ready to pot up in bigger pots.   

Common Issues

Ceanothus isn’t often bothered by pests and diseases. However, they can be attacked by some insects like brown scale or afflicted by honey fungus.   
It’s more likely to see issues based on poor growing environments. For example, they could get wind scorch from being in a windy area of the garden or rotted roots from wet conditions. You can avoid these issues by ensuring they’re planted somewhere out of the way of windy and frosty conditions as well as ensuring it isn’t sat in water.   

Ceanothus FAQs

Q: When to prune ceanothus 
A: Ceanothus shrubs that flower in late spring or early summer can be pruned once they’ve finished flowering. You can use secateurs to cut back long shoots by a third or half.  


Q: How hard can you prune a ceanothus 
A: Late summer varieties can be pruned by a third to a half. They shouldn’t need more than this.  


Q: Is Ceanothus evergreen
A: Some varieties can be evergreen. You can also get deciduous Ceanothus.  


Q: What to plant with ceanothus 
A: Lavender, sage and sedum are all great plants to grow with your ceanothus plants.  

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