California Mountain Lilac
This hybrid evergreen Ceanothus grows about 6 feet high and 9 feet wide. It is less desirable to deer than some of the larger-leaved Ceanothus because of its small, warty leaves. Deep blue flower clusters appear in spring. Plant it in full sun; it is drought-tolerant and good on hillsides and in dry, rocky soil. ‘Concha’ is attractive with Black Sage, Coffeeberry, and California Fuchsia.
Wildlife value: Ceanothus are hosts to a number of butterflies, including the Pipevine Swallowtail, Brown Elfin, Hedgerow Hairstreak, and Echo Blue. Their abundant flowers draw many insects. Ceanothus leaf litter supports plenty of invertebrates which, in turn, feed birds and lizards. The foliage provides excellent cover. The larger-leaved species are good forage for deer. Quail eat the small, hard seeds, and a number of mammals both large and small browse the twigs and foliage.
Additional notes about Ceanothus: Many Ceanothus are prone to disease in summer-wet soils, so little watering is recommended after the plants are established. Tip-pruning will keep plants compact. Small, wrinkled, or spiny-leaved forms are usually unattractive to deer. Ceanothus roots fix nitrogen in the soil. These plants will suffer if their roots are handled. Do not pry or prune the roots.