Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Plant Guide

Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps'

Common Name
Julia Phelps California Lilac
CA Native
California Native
Plant Type
4 - 7' x 7' - 9'
Flower Color
Dark Blue- Purple
Bloom Time
  • Spring
Dark Green
Deer Resistant
Seldom Damaged
Wildlife Value
  • Attracts Beneficial Insects
  • Bees
  • Bird Habitat
Growth Rate
Adverse Growth Factors
Special Features
  • Low Maintenance
  • Showy Flowers
Water Use
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Low
Soil pH
6.5-7.5 (neutral)
  • Full Sun
Soil Type
Not Particular
Well Drained
Description and Cultural Plant Tips

This hybrid Ceanothus is compact, bushy and has one of the best blooming spring shows. From a distance it appears as a cloud of blue-purple. It is also one of the more deer resistant because of its smaller, leathery leaves. It can be used as a specimen plant, screen hedge, shrub border or as a transition plant between wildland and watered garden zones. Companion plants include low, ground cover manzanitas (Emerald Carpet), coffeeberry, and toyon.

Plant slightly above soil grade or on a slope as this plant needs excellent drainage. It likes full sun near the coast but will appreciate light afternoon shade in the hotter parts of Marin. Needs no summer watering once established and no fertilzer or soil ammendments. Summer water and fertilizer reduce the life expectancy of all Ceanothus. Mulch around plant to retain some  soil moisture. Tip prune to  shape and clean out dead interior growth. This plant does not produce new growth from old wood so prune lightly.

Native insects, bees and butterflies utilize this plant as a nectar source. It provides seeds that are eaten by bushtits, quails, and finches acting as a shelter and habitat for these as well as other birds. While deer will brouse on this plant in drought years, it is one of the more deer resistant Ceanothus.

Ceanothus is susceptible to aphids and whiteflies but are easily controlled (see UC IPM ). Will succumb to root and crown rot if overwatered.


Master Gardener Comments

This is a lovely ceanothus for a dry garden or on a slope. I find it more deer resistant than other varieties.


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