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Ceanothus spp. are prolific seed producers. Thousands of viable seeds can be produced per hectare and remain dormant in the soil and duff layer until disturbance stimulates germination [38,48]. At approximately 4 years of age, whitethorn ceanothus is capable of seed production and reaches a maximum seed load of approximately 4,500 seeds per plant by the age of 20 to 25. Seed production remains high until the plant is senescent, around 40 years of age, or where the plants are inhibited by shade .Whitethorn ceanothus can be classified as both an early- and late-successional species. It is considered a pioneer species most commonly associated with early successional stages because of its ability to germinate from seed and sprout after disturbance [15,81]. Since whitethorn ceanothus is one of the 1st plants to become established on denuded soils, it has immediate value in soil protection and later serves as a nurse crop for coniferous species . It is possible that whitethorn ceanothus plays an important role in succession by providing a more favorable microclimate of nutrient rich microsites in otherwise harsh growing conditions .
Propagation of ceanothus is by seed, following scarification and stratification. Seeds are soaked in water for 12 hours followed by chilling at 1 °C for one to three months. It can also sprout from roots and/or stems. Seeds are stored in plant litter in large quantities. It is estimated that there are about two million seeds per acre in forest habitats. Seeds are dispersed propulsively from capsules and, it has been estimated, can remain viable for hundreds of years. In habitat, the seeds of plants in this genus germinate only in response to range fires and forest fires.There is much variety in the size and habit of Ceanothus. Are you after a spreading, low-growing plant for ground cover or perhaps a compact, bushy shrub for a mixed border? If you want a plant for wall-training, choose a vigorous, taller-growing cultivar. Check the labels of plants you are considering for the eventual height and spread, to ensure they're suitable for your needs.
You’ll see our recommended planting densities for each pot size listed next to the products opposite. We suggest that you use these as a guide, taking into consideration how long you’re willing to wait to see your finished hedge. For pot grown plants as in the case of our range of Ceanothus, for 2 litre pots a good planting density is 3 per metre but you can plant as few as 1 per metre and you can fit in 5 (in a double staggered row) for a quickly established hedge. For the 5 litre pots - a good density is 2 per metre but 1 is perfectly acceptable or 3 if staggered in a double row. Generally, the smaller, more prickly and tougher the leaf, the greater the deer resistance. Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ has small, prickly holly-like leaves and purple-blue flowers on a rounded shrub to about 6 ft. tall with arching branches. ‘Julia Phelps’ is similar with small and crinkly, dark green leaves with serrated edges and produces very showy, dark indigo flowers. The whole plant appears purple in spring as flowers emerge. Near the coast it remains about 6 ft. tall but will reach 8 ft. inland. ‘Dark Star' reaches about 6 ft. and spreads 8-10 ft. wide with good deer resistance to its tiny, crinkled, almost black-green leaves and deep blue blooms. Infrequent summer irrigation is tolerated. (Source: sonomamg.ucanr.edu)