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Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’

Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’

Commonly called California Wild Lilac, Ceanothus species are a part of the Rhamnaceae, or Buckthorn family. ‘Ray Hartman’ is a Hybrid of Ceanothus arborous and Ceanothus thysiflorus var.griseus, named after a California native plant enthusiast from Morgan Hill, California. The Genus comes from the Greek ‘Keanthos’, meaning thistly or thorny plant, but ‘Ray Hartman’ is not as thistly as many other species. It is a fast growing evergreen shrub that can be trained as a small tree. It will grow to 12-20 feet tall, and 15-20 feet wide. It has large, dark green, shiny leaves and profuse radiant blue blossoms growing in clusters in the winter and spring. Pruning back after a bloom is faded can encourage new growth and blossom.

Plant in well-drained soil, and water lightly until the roots become established, then reduce irrigation. This plant does not need fertilizer. Ceanothus species develop nitrogen fixing nodes on their roots, which are very beneficial to their health and lifespan. Overwatering and fertilization causes the plant to assume that its root nodes are unnecessary, and will be detrimental to its overall health. The only exception is in hot inland areas where they would benefit from occasional watering throughout the summer heat. Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ has been known to tolerate temperatures as low as 10 °F., but suffers damage at lower temperatures. It can be grown as a shrub, a border plant, a hedge, or a screen, and can even be pruned into a small tree. This is a good choice for large slopes as it will hold the soil together with its roots, thereby preventing erosion.

The sweetly scented flowers attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinators, and their berries draw in the local bird population. This magnificent perennial is a great addition to a wildlife-friendly garden. It provides birds and other wildlife a place to nest, and take shelter from the elements and potential harm. This variety of Ceanothus is not deer resistant so avoid planting in an area populated by deer. I have a beautiful one that I trained as a tree outside my bedroom window, which gives me lots of privacy, while attracting large amounts of lovely bird and butterfly visitors. We currently have Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ growing in one gallon containers. Please give us a call, ‘Like’ us on Facebook, or check out our website at to learn more about these and other plants we are growing.

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