Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Plant Guide

Ceanothus griseus horizontalis (Carmel Creeper California Lilac)

Common Name
Carmel Creeper California Lilac
CA Native
California Native
Plant Type
Ground Cover
1' - 3' x 3' - 6'
Flower Color
Light Blue
Bloom Time
  • Spring
Glossy, Bright Green
Deer Resistant
Occasionally Damaged
Wildlife Value
  • Bees
Growth Rate
Adverse Growth Factors
Special Features
  • Erosion Control
  • Fragrance
  • Low Maintenance
  • Showy Flowers
Water Use
  • Low
Soil pH
6.5-7.5 (neutral)
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Shade
Soil Type
Not Particular
Well Drained
Description and Cultural Plant Tips

The Carmel Creeper Ceanothus is a dense, dark green groundcover with 1 inch long light blue flowers. It looks good cascading over walls or berms, on hillsides for erosion control and can also be used as a tall replacement for grass. Deer like to munch on this plant but will not kill it. If you have a deer problem look for a small leafed variety such as C. 'Joyce Coulter'.

Plant slight above grade in well-drained soil. This Ceanothus does okay in heavy clay soils but it is best to add compost to provide better drainage. Needs no amendments or fertilizers. It requires little to no water in summer and will live longer with less summer water. Benefits from light pruning after plant flowers.

Enjoyed by bees and beneficial insects. It is also a treat for deer.

Although quite resistant to diseases and pests, Ceanothus can be attached by aphids & whitefly but these are easy to control.  Can develop root rot from water molds if watered to much in the summer or if drainage is poor.

Master Gardener Comments

I have this Ceanothus cascading over a wall and it looks lovely in the spring. The bright green foliage looks good all the time. It does get nibbled by deer. Do not water in summer for a longer life.


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