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Lilac Shrubs That Will Grow in California

lilac image by Henryk Olszewski from

Lilacs are known for their fragrance and delicate flowers. Lilac flowers traditionally bloom in shades of pink, purple and white, but new cultivars boast colors such as yellow, and bicolor flowers, according to About Lilac. Lilac shrubs generally grow in full sun and require well-drained soil. These flowers bloom once a year in the spring. There are many varieties of lilac, many of will grow in, or are native to, California’s climate.

Common Lilac

Although the common lilac or Syringa vulgaris prefers a cooler climate such as that found in northeastern California, several varieties tolerate the warmer weather found in the rest of the state. Common lilac grows in partial to full sun in well-drained soil, according to Monrovia. The fragrant flowers of this shrub bloom in the spring, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. Growing to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide, this shrub is drought resistant once its established. Lilacs for warm climates include Lavender Lady, Blue Skies and Angel White. These lilacs thrive in United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness zones 3 through 8.

San Diego Mountain Lilac

San Diego mountain lilac, or Ceanothus cyaneus, is a lilac shrub reaching 15 feet tall, commonly found growing wild along the southern California coast. This shrub is not frost tolerant and can not be transplanted. San Diego mountain lilac lives longer in the wild than it does in domestic gardens but the fragrant dark blue flowers covering the shrub in the spring make it a popular garden shrub in Southern California gardens. The foliage of the San Diego Mountain Lilac is silvery green and evergreen, staying green year-round.

Chinese Lilac

Florets of pale lilac flowers bloom on this shrub in the spring. Chinese lilac grows in full sun and well drained soil, reaching up to 12 feet tall and wide. This deciduous shrub makes an ideal hedge or accent in your California garden. The fragrant flowers add to floral bouquets or attract butterflies to your garden, according to Monrovia. This lilac thrives throughout California except in the far south, growing in USDA Hardiness zones 3 through 8.

Wavy Leaf Mountain Lilac

Wavy Leaf Mountain Lilac or Ceanothus foliosus is an evergreen lilac that grows to 4 feet tall inland in California and preferring partial sun, according to Lapilitas. Near the California oceans, this lilac shrub grows in full sun and only reaches a height of 2 feet tall. Fragrant, dark blue flowers bloom in florets mid-spring. This lilac will tolerate some frost as long as temperatures don’t dip below 5 degrees F. The bright green leaves of this lilac are crinkly, giving it its name.

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