Ceanothus 'Dark Star'
Introduced by Ken Taylor Nursery, ‘Dark Star’ has one of the deepest purple flowers among the Ceanothus shrubs. It is quite stunning in full bloom February through April. It grows 5 to 6 feet in height and spreads 8 feet across with tiny, rough, leathery green leaves. It is fairly drought-tolerant, though it will accept some summer water. Plant it in full sun in a spot with good drainage for best results.
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.