The Q&A Archives: Ceanothus thyrsiflorus

Question: I bought the above plant from Armstrong in the spring. It was doing fine until about three weeks ago. A bit at the top started turning brown and now it is all brown. Today is September 3rd. I have it planted in a bed on the west side (which is the front) of my house. It gets waterings three days a week. I have done a cottage type garden. Can you tell me if it is dead or will it come back. Thanks!

Answer: Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, the native California lilac, thrives in sunshine and dry soils so I suspect yours has gotten too much water. It's important to water regularly right after planting to help the roots become established, but after 4-6 weeks, watering should be deep but infrequent. Watering three times a week is excessive for Ceanothus, even if your soil has perfect drainage. It's possible your plant will come back - you can prune off the dead parts and hold off on watering. If the roots are still healthy, they will produce new stems. Let's hope so!

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