Blue is the biggest trend of all for gardens this year, and ceanothus has the very bluest of blooms! Also known as Californian lilac, ceanothus (pronounced ‘see-an-No-thus’) flowers in late spring to early summer, so you can enjoy this bright splash of blue in your plot right now. And if you love it so much you can’t bear to be without it, then there are some varieties that flower later on in the year, too. You can do all sorts of different things with ceanothus. Some varieties can quickly be trained up a support so, with some wires or trellis, you can train one to cover a fence, wall or shed. Most are evergreen, so they’ll work hard all year to screen it. For spring colour, try ‘Puget Blue’ (Height and Spread 3m, £19.99/2L pot, crocus.co.uk), which is covered in dense clusters of dark blue flowers and grows quickly to pretty up a fence in next to no time.
The Very Best Time to Add The intense Blue Flowers of this Sun loving Shrub to Your Plot Photo Gallery
There are also free-standing varieties that you can easily trim into a lollipop shape. Some stay small, such as ‘Burkwoodii’ (Height 1.5 m Spread 2m, £15/2-3L pot, burncoose.co.uk), so they’re perfect for a cheery patio pot. Others grow low, such as deep blue ‘Yankee Point’ (Height 1m Spread 2.5m, £7.99/9cm pot, thompson- morgan.com), making them really useful as good-looking but low-maintenance ground cover. You can even grow a ceanothus hedge! There are some deciduous varieties to choose from too, which are a good choice if your garden is exposed as they are less susceptible to wind and frost damage. You can also get white and pink varieties – but we like the blue best!
PICK A HEALTHY PLANT
You’ll be able to buy this blue beauty in supermarkets as well as DIY and garden centres. Look for a plant with a balanced symmetrical shape and evenly-spaced branches. Avoid anything that shows signs of stress, damage or disease, such as misshapen branches or tired-looking yellow or wilted leaves. If you can, turn the plant upside down and ease it out of its pot – you want a good mix of soil and roots, and not a big tangle of pot-bound roots.
KEEP IT ALIVE
This sun-loving plant is easy to grow, especially if you pop it in a protected spot where it can bask in the sunshine. It loves well-drained soil, so when you plant it, improve drainage by digging in some organic matter such as leaf mould or well-rotted manure. It’s a native of California and does best in dry conditions, so avoid watering it in summer once it’s established, unless we have prolonged hot weather.
HELP IT THRIVE
It’s a fast-grower, so trim it once it’s finished flowering – look on the label for pruning instructions. Cut off any foliage damaged by cold winds or frost in spring, too. And sprinkle a fertiliser such as Growmore by Westland (£4/1.5kg, sainsburys.co.uk) around the plant in spring to encourage new growth.
LOVE A LOLLIPOP
Grow ceanothus as a lollipop tree that’ll look fabulous on your patio, or plant a pair to frame a doorway. Choose a ‘standard’ ceanothus tree (Height 1.2m Spread 1m, £29.99/3L pot, yougarden.com). To keep it looking good, remove any side shoots from the trunk and top shoots from the foliage ball in spring. Repot in fresh compost every other year and increase the size of the container if you want to let it grow bigger.
HOW TO GROW A PATIO POT
Ceanothus is happy in any free-draining soil but doesn’t like wet clay. If your soil isn’t suitable, you could grow it in a container of John Innes No 3 (£3.99/10L, waitrosegarden.com). Make sure you position it in a sunny, sheltered spot and give it a light trim after flowering to keep it looking neat and shapely.
PLANT AGAINST A DARK WALL
Add some drama by showing off the sculptural outlines of Angelica archangelica against a cool slate-grey backdrop. For a similar shade try opaque Superdec by Sadolin in shade 20C37 (£17/1L, buypaintsonline.co.uk).