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Dark star ceanothus is an evergreen mounding shrub with a tight branching habit, growing 5-8 ft. tall, 8-10 ft. wide. Plants develop an upright form when young, then become more rounded with age. Tiny leaves grow 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. long and produce a fine textural character. Intense cobalt-blue flowers develop in early spring for a short and intense 2-3 week display.

Dark star ceanothus is planted in Inland Empire gardens for its fast growth rate and brilliant flower value. It is among the best seasonal California native flowering accent plants for garden use on slopes and in background areas on well drained soils. The fast growth rate of this cultivar is very impressive; it often offsets the slower growing and longer lived plants in a garden. Mix this with other California natives and use care to avoid too much summer watering.

Water Needs

Dark star ceanothus is quite sensitive to too much water, particularly during the summer. Like other Ceanothus cultivars, it is vulnerable to disease problems and sudden death when summer irrigation produces moist soil and leaf litter conditions during the warm months.

The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; it is desirable to have leaf litter and the top layer of soil beneath the canopy to dry out between irrigation applications.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.
Width: 6 ft. - 10 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Blue
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Flowering accent plant, California native, Banks, Background plant, Attracts butterflies


Prune by heading back as much of the new-ish growth as desired in April or May, after flowering. Further prune in the same way, if desired, in November. New growth over the cool season will have time to develop flower buds for spring. Ceanothus are browsed by Deer. Think like you are a deer having a snack with your pruners. By mid-winter it is too late to prune or you will be removing the growth that would form the flower buds that will bloom in Spring (1). Not pruning immediately after flowers fade will result in branches with leaves, followed by stems with no leaves (where the flowers were) followed by leaves again. For dense shrubs, be sure to prune off the spent flower clusters. Ceanothus tend to die or not live long if given too much summer water. They are beautiful and very rewarding plants to grow, but not necessarily the easiest for new gardeners because of this (3). Older branches often do not react well to pruning, so it is better not to prune any branches greater than the diameter of a pencil (7).



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