Ceanothus Thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’: Hardiest, Most Reliable, Prettiest Ceanothus

Ceanothus Thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’: Hardiest, Most Reliable, Prettiest Ceanothus

 California Lilac

Photo Compliments of Brian Pettinger

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’, or you are more apt here it called California lilac (not a true lilac), is a knock-down gorgeous shrub for your summer garden. Ceanothus is native to California and the Pacific Coast. Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’ variety is the hardiest and most reliable of the ceanothus family and the prettiest. In early June buds are ready to burst into a nearly true blue haze of blooms backed up by deep, deep green glossy small leaves.

The flowers are an absolutely unbeatable sky blue; they form in rounded, terminal cymes and come out in early June, lasting for about a month. When in bloom the flowers will cover your shrub. Evergreen leaves reach a length of 1 to 1.5 inches. They are ovate, dark green, very glossy, and deeply veined. When crushed the leaves have an interesting spicy scent.

This shrub will reach a height of 6 to 10 feet; in milder climates it tends to spread and grows upwards very slowly. California lilac can grow as much as 12 inches horizontally per year when well established. If you are choosing to use it as a solitaire standing beautiful shrub it will require some shearing or trimming to keep its compact statue and gain density. The denser it gets the hardier it will be over a harsher winter. Any pruning is best done immediately after flowering (early July); un-pruned plants may get leggy over a few years.

California lilac is a fast growing, evergreen, deer resistant, and drought tolerant shrub so it is a welcome garden addition. It can function as a single shrub, or as a hedge either formally clipped or left natural for a loose cottage garden look. It will grow quickly to 6 or 7 foot tall and wide, or if it is well treated 10 feet, so if you are choosing it for your landscape or garden leave plenty of space. After blooming they can be shared by as much as one third to keep the overall size smaller.

How To Make Your Ceanothus Thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’ Thrive

California lilac needs fertile, permeable soil, adequately moist for the first year and preferably slightly acidic. Ceanothus adapts to a wide range of soil types, but prefers to be dry or have excellent drainage in summer. Plants in very rich garden soil grow fast, but are shorter lived. Do not apply fertilizers for faster growth; the shoots will become too long and will not have enough time to mature and then will die in a harsher winter. You can use a slow release selective fertilizer for profuse flowering or leaf color. What you definitely must do is provide a thick layer of mulch, especially before winter. Select a location sheltered from winds, the best choice of a location is against a wall or in a closed yard. For reliable overwintering you also need to find a place that will be insulated in summer but shaded in winter, long-lasting winter sun in combination with frost may cause visible injuries. It thrives in Zones 6 to 8; it is hardy to 5° or, in a sheltered spot down to -10° with a protection. California lilac is a great choice where there is exposure to sea air; it is often planted in seaside gardens.

Water well, especially in dry hot locations for the first season, but after that nothing more than occasional watering during really dry periods. This is a really low maintenance shrub.

General Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’ Information

Pests and Diseases

No real common problems.

Landscape Uses

California lilac should also be considered for fire-scaping, privacy screens, or seacoast exposure.

Quick Facts

  • Plant Type: Upright shrub
  • Foliage Type: Evergreen
  • Plant Height: 6 feet, 10 feet under ideal conditions
  • Plant Width: 6 feet, 10 feet under ideal conditions
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 6 to 9
  • Bloom Color: Sky blue
  • Bloom Time: Early to mid-June
  • Light Exposure: Full sun
  • Water Requirements: Drought tolerant when established
  • Attracts Wildlife: Bees, birds, butterflies, hummingbirds
  • Great Color Contrasts: White, silver, orange
  • Great Color Partners: Purple, lavender, rose
  • Growth Rate: Moderate

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  1. Lilacs of any type are a favourite – over here they’re a sign of spring!

  2. I agree, it is a lovely bush, I have planted two but they both died, I really don’t want to kill a third!
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