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Old 22-03-2019, 03:22 PM posted to rec.gardens
David E. Ross[_2_] David E. Ross[_2_] is offline
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,031
Default California Lilac looks like it is dying :(

On 3/22/2019 1:25 AM, Jeff Layman wrote:
On 22/03/19 00:40, David E. Ross wrote:

The entire genus Ceanothus is known to be short-lived, 5-10 years.
Thus, yours might have merely died of old age.

I see this stated many times, but I wonder if it is how most general
gardening information is disseminated - simply by repeating it without
checking the facts.
"Ceanothus is often said to be short lived, but that may be mostly in
garden that insist on drip irrigation, summer water and soil amendments.
California native plants are generally intolerant of all of these. In
their wild conditions Ceanothus plants have a natural life cycle of
10-15 years, with some even longer, though fire sometimes shortens that
"In general, if you water mature Ceanothus in the summer, they will
usually be short-lived. Best to choose a Ceanothus native to your
location, and stop direct watering after 1-2 years."
"Some ceanothus, for example ‘Centennial’, do seem to be short-lived,
but most of them seem to be quite long-lived shrubs, given the correct
"The myth of Ceanothus being short lived is primarily spread by
incompetent gardeners that insist on drip irrigation, summer water and
soil amendments. California native plants hate all three. Expect a 20-25
year life from your Ceanothus in most gardens. We have many Mountain
Lilacs in the ground here that still look good after thirty years."

That last one is particularly interesting, as it concerns personal

All the above were from just the first couple of pages of an internet
search on "Ceanothus" and "short-lived".

My guess is that this "fact", started when Ceanothus were introduced to
the UK, and they could not deal with our wet summer climate. It then
became known throughout the UK gardening world that they were
short-lived, and this even found its way back to the land they came from.

My source is Sunset's "Western Garden Book", copyright 2001. West of
the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to San Diego, this is often considered
the gardener's bible.

David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
Gardening diary at