Common Name: Warty Stemmed Ceanothus
Origin: Coastal San Diego
Features/Uses: Ceanothus verrucosus is one of the staple shrubs of our local Southern Maritime Chaparral plant community, but it is quite rare globally. These plant's are ideally suited to add seasonal interest and a strong anchoring specimen to a low-water landscape. Warty Stemmed Ceanothus provide a rugged, weather-hardened aesthetic that lends a sense of establishment to smaller gardens which are often dominated by herbaceous plants. In time these shrubs develop into natural bonsais which provide the perfect balance of access and protection to our local avian residents.
Growth Habit: Warty Stemmed Ceanothus are slow-growing, short statured woody shrubs. Plants tend to stay at about head height or below. Long-established specimens exist as sprawling shrubs rather than growing upright like trees. Small, tough, dark green leaves cover the plant but usually leave enough open space for the structure of the trunk to be visible. Alternately growing leaves have a characteristic blunt tip. Plants produce profuse flowers at the terminals of branch growth. White flowers feature a dark contrasting center, and a fragrance similar to mild Alyssum. Seed capsules explode in early summer, throwing seeds throughout the surrounding area.
Bloom Time: Plants bloom from late winter into spring.
Cultural Requirements: Ceanothus verrucosus can be sensitive at establishment. Plants require well-draining soils exemplified by the sandstone based soils found along much of San Diego's coastline. Ceanothus is among the most drought-tolerant of any genera native to California, but this species comes from a region characterized by moderate temperatures and a prominent marine layer influence. Planting Ceanothus verrucosus during the winter, when the plants can take advantage of naturally favorable establishment conditions, is the surest route to success. By the time our warm, dry summer sets in, a monthly watering should be sufficient to foster young plants. Established plants can get by without any supplemental water, but will not perish because of it. No fertilizer is required, and pruning need only be done for the sake of aesthetics or fire safety.
Where in the Garden: Native Plants; Native People, California Gardenscape
Photos: Rachel Cobb