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Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Posted by bonzgirl 8 (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 6, 07 at 2:08

Hi,

I live in Seattle, and looking for the plants for informal evergreen hedge which will grow 4'-6' tall. It will be about 40'-50' long.

I'm currently looking at Ceanothus, but not sure which kind will be good for Seattle climate, and doesn't grow too tall.

Also I'm curious how high/low maintenance Ceanothus will be as hedge. My landscaping doesn't really fit "formal" style, it's rather cottage/informal.

If you have any other suggestion for evergreen hedge, I would really appreciate to hear that.

Thanks!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

It can make a very nice informal hedge, providing you get a cultivar that will stay in scale with the size you desire - many varieties grow to be very robust plants and will not even blink as they go flying by 4-6 feet :-) It also makes a very attractive sheared hedge as well, provided training is begun at an early enough age and you have the time to devote to the maintenance.

You might want to scout out the selection Ceanothus impressus 'Vandenberg'. This is a compact (I hesitate to call it "dwarf") form of ceanothus with tiny, densely spaced, deep green foliage and bright blue flowers. I've found reports of its mature size extremely variable, from 2-3 feet to 4-6 feet. My personal experience is that it will likely achieve the upper end and fairly rapidly at that. I removed mine as it quickly overtook the space I had allotted for it. Also has a tendency to grow a bit wider than tall, so space accordingly.

Ceanothus has a reputation for being rather short-lived, although my 20 y.o. 'Victoria's show no signs of any decline. Full sun, rather lean and very well draining soil and no summer irrigation after establishment. Should be hardy for a true zone 8 and any coastal locations or areas close to water. My own plants in my Shoreline garden are in a rather exposed position but have never experienced any winter damage.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

gardengal48,

Thanks for all of your wonderful information about ceanothus!

I researched a bit about "Vandenber" online. One of the site says it's slower growing, and needs 3 years to get to 3' tall.

You mentioned that yours grow fairly rapidly. Would you mind giving me more detail of how fast yours have grown? For example, from 2' to 6' within 3 years??


I'm also wondering what size plants to start with. I will probably need 6-8 plants and my budge is a bit tight. Would it be still get to 3'-4' tall with in a couple of years even if I started with 1 gallon size??

Thank you!!!

-b


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by ian_wa Seattle area (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 07 at 16:27

Ceanothus is a great choice for an informal hedge as long as they will not get too much water. I think 1 gallon size is the best for planting a lot of things, including Ceanothus. They grow very fast from a small size and larger plants sometimes don't get established as quickly.

I saw a 6' tall 'Vandenberg' last week at Cistus Nursery - it can't have been more than 4-5 years old. The tags that frequently say 2' tall are a joke. If it's 6' now I wonder just how big it will get. You might also look at 'Emily Brown' and 'Concha' for something in your desired size range. I'm not sure if 'Puget Blue' or 'Blue Jeans' really stay as small as they are supposed to but you could look into those as well.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Thanks for your info, Ian.

It's really helpful to know more option for ceanothus. I like Concha.

Another question : should I wait for planting them till fall, so I don't have to water often in summer? I understand this plant doesn't like summer water, but they still need water till they established, correct??

Our front yard started look nice this year, but ceanothus hedge will add privacy and better structure to it for sure. I can't wait!

-b


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Wait until fall. I planted 10 gallon-size Ceanothus plants last fall, and since then I've only watered them twice.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

My 'Vandenberg' grew from a 1 gallon size to 6' in less than 3 years. After a couple of seasons of rather heavy pruning to control size (and which just made it grow faster), I got rid of it :-) Of those mentioned by Ian, I think 'Concha' would be your best bet. 'Emily Brown' is a form of C. gloriosus (aka Point Reyes ceanothus) and has more of a sprawling groundcover-like habit - probably not the best choice for a hedge. And 'Blue Jean' and 'Puget Blue' will get larger than you want, although you can prune. Another choice would be 'Dark Star', which typically runs right around 6' tall or so (but again, quite wide). IME, Dark Star and Vandenberg seem to be most readily available in this area - Concha harder to locate. And I also agree that a one gallon sized plant is fine - as long as they are planted in a good location, all ceanothus seem to grow pretty rapidly and larger to begin with is just not necessary unless you are looking for instant gratification.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Works very well for a hedge. I planted a near 60'ft hedge of it from very small 1 gallon specimens in 1994. They are now 10'ft tall and more. I grow C.victoria. My plants grow in poor rocky dry soil. Cheers, Joe


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by ian_wa Seattle area (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 07 at 23:21

Thanks GardenGal, I must have 'Emily Brown' confused with some upright cultivar of C. gloriosus. I find it odd that more growers don't offer 'Puget Blue'.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Have Victoria Impressiva (not exact spelling), several, which are growing so fast and thick and robustly it's sort of scary. They will be trees at this rate. I love it! They get sprinkler watered frequently since they're in the first 3 years of getting established. Also planted a few Dark Star which are also growing. The bees swarm these bushes with zippy industry.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Thanks for all your info, everyone!

I've started looking for the nursery who carries 1 gallon Concha or Dark Star. But I'll wait to plant them in fall.

If you have any pictures of ceanothus headge, I would love to see them!

Thanks!
-b


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

These guys on Whidbey have some Ceanothus going on. I think it's Julia Phelps? One of them told me once.

Here is a link that might be useful: Click on the


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

I've seen Ceanothus used for a really nice low hedge down here in the Bay Area. Personally, I'm very fond of Dark Star, the flowers are really stunning, no picture can do them justice, and the small leaves make a fairly dense hedge. Two things to keep in mind:

One, prune ceanothus only after it blooms, or you'll lose the flowers.

Two, ceanothus usually grows on slopes, so make sure your soil drains exceedingly well and is on the acidic side. And, given that it will get far more rain this winter than it usually gets, you probably won't even need to water it through its first summer. And after that first summer (maybe even during it), make sure not a drop of water touches it that doesn't fall from the sky.

Three, I have never seen a ceanothus in bloom that isn't covered in bees, except, sadly, this year with the whole colony collapse thing. So you might want to make sure it's not too close to walkways and so forth.

Good luck!


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by thane z8 Bellevue, WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 14, 07 at 12:14

I planted some 'Vandenberg' this year as they seemed the perfect shrub for the sides of my driveway. So cute and compact in their little 1 gallon pots. Well, in 4 months they have each put on over 12" of growth. Sounds like they're not likely to suddenly stop when they reach 3'. Stupid plant tags. (You did warn me, gardengal. At least that kept me from buying a dozen plants... I just got a few to try them out.)


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Yes, I recognized bees love this plant. Since it will be a hedge and we don't really have sidewalk here, I don't think it will be a problem.

Thane - where did you find 1 gallon size "Vandenberg"?? I'm in Seattle, and currently looking for several plants of 1 gallon size. Sky nursery has some, but they have larger pot and a bit too pricy.

Thanks!
-b


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by thane z8 Bellevue, WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 14, 07 at 22:19

Wells Medina Nursery had them. I've seen them elsewhere too, but I can't remember where.


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dark stars at Home Depot

I was fortunate to find 1-gallons of Dark Star very inexpensive at Home Depot last spring. They're growing fast. They don't need as much water as the Victoria Impressivas (not exact spelling, sorry).


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

None of the ceanothus commonly sold or grown in this area need much water. All are considered very drought tolerant. In fact, much of their reputation for shortlivedness is due to excessive watering from automatic sprinkler systems or otherwise too overt care from gardeners. Water just enough to get them established (for ceanothus, that is generally their first growing season), then leave them be! My 2 large and rather elderly Victorias, planted in well-draining soil, get only the rain nature provides - nothing more (including no fertilizing).

Ceanothus bloom on new growth, so the only time pruning is truly not advised is very close to the bloom season. Anytime after bloom through early to mid fall will not affect flowering or encourage too much cold-sensitive new growth. A sparse rebloom may occur after pruning. As long as one doesn't cut too far into mature stems, they take hard and frequent pruning very well.

FWIW, most growers acknowledge the correct taxonomy as follows: Ceanothus impressus 'Vandenberg', Ceanothus 'Dark Star' (a hybrid of C. impressus and C. papillosus) and Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Victoria'. 'Victoria' is arguably one of the hardiest for the Northwest based on its selection from plants growing on Vancouver Island. But it also gets plenty darn big.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by ian_wa Seattle area (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 18, 07 at 0:27

GardenGal, it sounds like I am not the only one who has seen those Ceanothus cultivars applied to the wrong species on nursery plant labels. I agree with your taxonomy.

I have a couple of new Ceanothus to try when I start planting things this fall. The most interesting to me is C. x mendocinoensis, apparently a natural hybrid of C. thrysiflorus and C. velutinus that is large, vigorous, super cold hardy and makes lots of light blue flowers. I will also have my eye out for interesting Ceanothus forms/species/hybrids on a couple of upcoming 'plant expeditions.' I've yet to see a hybrid of C. prostratus x velutinus, but maybe this will be the year... LOL....


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

I went Home Depot, and found they have "Concha" ($19.99 for 5gallon size) as well as 1 gallon size "dark star".

However, the tag on "Concha" pot says it will grow up to 8feet... Do they really get that tall in Seattle?? I saw different web site which says it grows around 4x4 size. Now I'm confused and not sure which information I should believe...

If you, especially Ian, have planted concha, it would be great to have your feedback on their mature size in Seattle area.

Thanks!!

p.s. Is there any other drought tolerant plant which takes full sun like ceanothus?? I have another location in my backyard, it's far away from our water source. it would be great to know any other options out there.

-b


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Have you considered-
Abelia
Variegated Silverberry- Eleagnus ebbingei, not as vigorous as the non-variegated which is turning into a monster in my yard
Evergreen blueberries- may need more water
Barberry
Nandina
Oregon holly grape
Lonicera nitida
Rugosa roses


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by ian_wa Seattle area (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 20, 07 at 14:06

I just planted 'Concha' this year but I can't say I have ever seen, or heard of, one taller than about 6'. Now that I've said that I'm sure someone out there has...

There are many excellent choices for drought tolerant plants, although Ceanothus is hard to beat. Manzanita (Arctostaphylos species and varieties) and the hardier Grevilleas are among my favorites, but they are not always easy to find in local nurseries. You could also look at Cistus, Arbutus unedo, Cotoneaster, Phlomis, Myrica californica, Rosemary. Elaeagnus is an excellent suggestion for a really difficult spot with no water and horrible soil.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

I had several ceanothus 'Concha' and they grew to be about 8'tall and wide on a sandy unirrigated site


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Thank you, brent_in_seattle!

I love the flower of Concha, but 8' is too tall for my informal hedge. I mostly decided on "Dark star" at this moment...

Thanks all for your advices. It was very educational for me, and I really appreciate your time!

-b


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

More important that whether you would like it for a hedge, is how long it can be maintained as a hedge.

They make decent "looking" hedges, but I have not found them to be very easy to reduce.

Almost all hedges reach a maximum desired size.

Its important to know if a plant can be kept at that size, or reduced as if often needed.

For example, Privet and Laurel can be reduced and will recover nicely.

I haven't had enough successful adventures with Ceanothus as a hedge, to stand-behind it for both looks, and longevity as a controlled hedge.

But if you like the blue, it may be worth the undertaking. The foliage is excellent too.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Why is it that when the term "hedge" is used, so many automatically assume it means something that requires consistant pruning attention? A hedge just is a grouping or line of plants that is used to define a boundary or provide a visual or physical barrier. It can be left totally unpruned - the informal hedge referred to in the subject line or the even less tamed and tidy hedgerow - or it can be a groomed formal or clipped hedge, that does require periodic pruning attention. Although I've seen ceanothus used successfully in both applications, I personally feel the habit of the plant is best suited to the more informal approach, with only the occasional pruning to keep wayward growth in check.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Maybe because the posted mentioned 4' to 6' for a size. In that case, there is no way around pruning.

A hedge is going to need shearing, thinning, or re-direction of growth to be restrained within those dimensions. Either way, it's going to need it intitially, or eventually. Eventually, its going to need some pruning once or twice per year to be in the best shape. That's "consistent" pruning.

Maybe you meant that hedges don't neccessarily need "constant" pruning.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Hi everyone,

I really appreciate all your replies to my questions.
I finally found ceanothus "dark star" today at Home Depot.

However.... I'm not 100% sure the plants I bought were really "dark star" because they apparently messed up the tag for two kind of ceanothus in 1 gallon pots, and the nursery person couldn't tell which one is the real "dark star"...

One has a tiny darker green leaves. Another one has variegated leaves, slightly larger leave than first one. I bought the non-variegated ones.

The store stuff told me that she believes there are variegated leave "dark star". Is there really such a thing??

All the ceanothus tags I found on the flower away from the pots at the section were...
(1) dark star
(2) Yankee Point Ceanothus
(3) El dorado
(4) victoria

I just looked up online, and El Dorado is the one w/variegated leaves. Do you think I bought the right one??

p.s. Looks like the plants are not the happiest condition. The roots looks ok, but two has brown leaves on the end. Is there any tips for planting these?

The location I am going to plant them doesn't have great soil either. I don't want to kill them since these will be the only chance I can plant them in this fall (couldn't fine any in other nurseries).

Will try to use more compost than usual around the root ball when I plant. If there are any other tips for planting them successfully, please let me know!


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Sounds like what one could expect from Home Depot :-) And it sounds like you got the right one - there is NO variegated form of 'Dark Star'. The variegated choice was El Dorado, a Monrovia exclusive introduction ('Perado'). 'Yankee Point' is a spreading, tall goundcover form and 'Victoria' is a big lady!

Ceanothus are difficult to maintain through the summer in a container in a nursery setting, which is why they could be hard to find now. And also why the ones at HD are looking a little beat up. As long as the foliage is more or less intact and green (not yellow) and the roots appear healthy, the plants should be fine. Brown tips can be snipped off.

I wouldn't worry about soil conditions other than to make sure it is very well-draining - fertility is not an issue. I'd certainly avoid incorporating compost into the planting hole - first, it is not a recommended practice and second, the shrub will resent it. I'd only do a light mulch around the base after planting just to conserve moisture - that's it.


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Victoria needs pruning

OK, here's a before and after to see how fast ceanothus victoria grows. In the first picture taken spring 06, the little ceanothus is only 3 months in the ground after having been planted at the end of December followed by 3 weeks of 11 degrees in the yard (brutal winter). Planted in a raised bed with (at the time) full sun. The little plant farther down is an arbutus unedo compacta.

2nd picture, taken this last Monday, 9/03/07, day before school starts (we're across the street from an elementary school), so 21 months after planting, look at the growth -- this picture was taken after I had pruned back the ceanothus about a foot all around.

Planted several of these and they're all going bonkers. They get sprinkler watered at night.

The big spruce in the 1st picture died -- didn't know at the time that putting a raised bed around a tree would kill it -- really stupid mistake -- but the tree had been drought-stressed before we bought the house and some insect had burrowed into the trunk and then exploded the trunk when it exited, so we don't know if the tree could have survived. We planted a Hazel Smith (hardy and blue) sequoia there.

I didn't want to prune anything but planted too many trees (LOVE trees!) so I'm going to have to become an expert and frequent wielder of the pruning shears. These ceanothus are growing so thick and fast they obviously have to be maintained and shaped or they'll take over the entire yard! The blue flowers are awesome and the bees and butterflies are very active and happy with this bush. The neighbor had some variety of ceanothus that had grown into an enormous tree with a huge trunk but the idiot developer who bought the property bulldozed almost everything. I'm hoping mine turn into trees.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Thank you gardengal for your planting tips!!
I'll certainly not use compost for them... It's the site I did sheetmulching last fall, and used to be very dry and "hard like a rock" soil w/poor lawn condition. It seems sheetmulch is working in order to improve the moisture and soil, just need to add more soil around the planting area.

Thanks cascadian for your pix! I have one victoria, but not growing fast like yours. It maybe it was not completely full sun location... I just transplanted it, not looking good so far. Hopefully I didin't kill it...

Thanks again!
-b


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

I just purchased a Ceanothus 'Victoria' for informal hedge. I live in Sammamish (zone 7a).

I have a question. My understanding is that Ceanothus likes full sun. Unfortunately, the spot I have in mind for this plant is in partial shade on a slope. During the summer, it gets some afternoon sun, but it is still limited because Ceanothus will be under Acer palmatum.

So, I am wondering if Ceanothus will grow dense enough (and bloom) to be effective for hedging.

Thanks.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sat, May 9, 09 at 10:52

The plant sold as 'Victoria' is probably actually 'Skylark'. If you live way out there even this one may not be hardy for you. There was some damage to two established specimens on Camano Island this past winter. Neither died but the one was left shabby enough that I took it out.

Judging from internet reports there may have been a general dying off of ceanothus in Vancouver, BC this winter. All want a hot and well-drained site. I have seen a formerly dramatic specimen of the locally native Ceanothus velutinus at an overlook in Bellevue turned to trash over a comparatively short period of years by the growth of Douglas fir seedlings blocking the late afternoon sun from it. The difference in condition of the plant between my first and last visits to the site was shocking.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Thanks.

I was afraid of that. I need to consider returning it for something else. Thanks again.


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

Ceanothus 'Puget Blue' and 'Oregon Mist' seem like were developed in the Northwest? Maybe these varieties might do fine in your area. Can someone confirm this?


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RE: Ceanothus for informal hedge??

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 15:09

'Puget Blue' was selected at the Seattle arboretum sometime prior to 1945. It is thought to have been grown from seed of Ceanothus papillosus sent by Lester Rowntree (of California). A plant labeled 'Puget Blue' grew for years at the entrance to the old arboretum offices, however the late J.A. Witt (arboretum curator) felt that this specimen was not the true item. So stock originating with people helping themselves to cuttings of this prominently located plant may have been circulated erroneously as 'Puget Blue' in the past. The original 'Puget Blue' may have been selected, grown for a time at the arboretum and then lost (to the arboretum) decades before the one at the offices was present.

I bought C. thyrsiflorus 'Oregon Mist' recently, it originates with Xera Plants wholesale nursery in Oregon. From their web site:

Very odd that a genus cherished in California and Europe- with many native representatives in Oregon has NO selections made from this state. We’ve decided to change that by selecting a form of Blueblossom from near its northern native limit. From Coos County we chose this variety for its deep green leaves and striking turquoise blue flowers. Large growing evergreen shrub that should provide superior cold hardiness. Also, it is a great representative of this species in the wild. We took cuttings of this plant where it grew simultaneously with a salmon flowered variety of Rhododendron occidentalis inbetween California Bay (Umbelluaria) and blue flowered Iris douglasiana. Interesting that this shrub grew in heavy clay soil where running water flows during winter. To 8’ tall and as wide very quickly. May grow larger in optimum conditions, tip prune to limit size, increase density and blooming wood. Flowers late April to late May. Excellent shrub for low water native gardens. Underplant with Pacific Coast Iris which bloom concurrently and have the same cultural requirements. May also be used as a small garden tree

Most of the interesting dry climate shrubs and related items appearing at local garden centers in recent years are being supplied by Xera Plants. See their web site for photos and descriptions.

Note that the hardiness zone designations they make are too optimistic, as is often the case with commercial sources. As with other nurseries if you add a zone to the one they give you will often be closer to the true picture.

This post was edited by bboy on Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 15:19


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