California Lilac looks like it is dying :(

My cal. lilac is turning brownish. I have never had to water it during the summer and it has always been very green a lovely all season long. This year it is starting to turn a brownish color and looks like it has lost a lot of leaves. Our neighbors sprinkler system has a leak and was leaking well over a week before they turned it off. The didn't even know it was leaking, duh, I had to go over and tell them. The neighbor still hasn't fixed their leak, they just turn their sprinkler system on/off manually but have forgotten it last week for 2 days. Our property got the run off from the leak right where my lilac is. Would too much water cause this? Well it rebound?
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Yes, it could very well be the problem. Calif. Lilac, Ceannothus species, needs to have perfect drainage and dry soil in the summer. If it has been soaking wet for several days/weeks it has probably developed root rot. If you can keep it dry from now on, it may recover, but maybe not. Some cultivars and more tolerant of water than others, but that sounds like a lot of water for a long time............not good. I hope it recovers; there is no blue like that of a ceanothus. Emilie NorCal
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On 7/15/2007 3:52 PM, mleblanca wrote:

mleblanca's reply might be correct. However, two other issues should be considered.
First of all, Ceanothus is generally not a long-lived shrub. Sunset indicates 5-10 years is typical. It might be dying of old age.
Then there is the fact that we are having a record-breaking drought affecting much of Caliofrnia. Although Ceanothus generally survives quite well on only the moisture from winter rains, there was not enough rain this past winter. Thus, some supplemental watering could have been beneficial -- but in the winter, not now.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/ .
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I am not in California, sorry for not mentioning that in my op, I am in Oregon we have had below average rains but it did rain considerably during the winter. The plant is about 8 or 9 years old but I have also read they can live up to 25-30 years so not sure that is it.
TOTB: They are beautiful plants! When they bloom they are glorious! A huge purple (our is purple) curtain of flowers (and bees the bush literally hums with bees) Right now it is very sad looking and I am quite upset about it. It is my favorite plant. They can grow very tall, ours is at least 9 feet tall, maybe taller.
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Goldlexus wrote: .

They sure look beautiful in the pictures I saw, lived near Santa Rosa for a couple of years, and don't recall having seen one. I think it is not a true lilac as I know them even though the blooms look similar, those are so much more splendid than any lilac I know, including Beauty of Moscow which I covet but have no room for, did a little googling and hard to find zone info, but concluded the pretty ones do not grow in my zone or anywhere near, the west and south. There is a plant in the family that does, but it is not at all like those.
Glad to hear about the bees, means CCD must not be rampant in your region. Now I'm glad when I see a honeybee around my flowers.
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On 7/16/2007 6:08 PM, TOTB wrote:

"California lilac" is not a true lilac. It's Ceanothus, which is native to California and grows wild on the walls of Malibu Canyon near my home. The flowers are either blue or white. As a California native, Ceanothus needs well-draining soil that is not constantly moist.
True lilac is Syringa. It needs regular watering, which would kill Ceanothus. It generally will not thrive in southern California because it prefers a good winter chill. (Although Descanso Gardens have developed mild-winter hybrids, those often fail to flower as profusely or grow as vigorously as Syringa grown where snow is common in the winter.) Syringa may have pink, magneta, yellow, white, purple, violet, lavender, or blue flowers. 'Beauty of Moscow' is Syringa vulgaris (common lilac).
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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David E. Ross wrote:

I rather guessed that from the name, and always forget ours are syringa. They look a lot like them except for an explosion of blooms on the Carlifornia ones we will never see on ours. If I saw a closeup, there would probably be a difference in the blooms, leaves or both. Thanks, just wanted to acknowledge your response.

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They are indeed beautiful. Concha is one of the older cultivers, grows to about 7-9 feet sometimes taller. Concha is hardy to about 15 degrees. For information re: Ceanothus, locate a copy of Sunset Western Garden Book. Your library should have a copy. Sunset lists 32 species/cultivars of Ceanothus that are planted in gardens. Some are low and spreading, some are tall and upright, some are vase shaped. Average age ( as David R notes) is 5-10 years. Ceanothus is in the Buckthorn Family.Rhamnaceae All need excellent drainage. Coastal types can stand a little more water
Emilie NorCal
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Another thing that Ceanothus does not like is to be pruned. Was this plant pruned by anyone? Tips of small branches can be pruned, but not larger branches. My friend had a tall, spectacular Concha planted on a vacant lot next to his house, where it would not get summer water. It was a beauty and in full bloom one summer. I drove past and a woman had been cutting off the flowers; she had cut long stems/branches and had a big bouquet. The plant was dead by winter. (I still think it was the soaking your plant got; a sprinkle would probably not make any differnce, but not all that water) Emilie
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Goldlexus wrote:

This link says they grow for 25-30 years. There may be someone you can consult through that site that could be of help to you.
http://www.laspilitas.com/groups/ceanothus/california_ceanothus.html
Oh my, what a gorgeous thing. I suppose they don't grow in zone 5. Maybe a small one would grow in a large pot like my plumbago.
If you click on the concha link (they say it isn't very tall so I don't know why the huge, gorgeous photo), well, you can see the huge, gorgeous photo. Never saw a lilac like that in my life.
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Oh no! I absolutely adore this shrub, from its small evergreen leaves to its tiny bloom of blue flowers. i have bought a few of these and had to leave a couple of them behind due to moving. However, I have just bought myself 2 new ones, but when I transplanted them most of the leaves on the bottom of the shrubs turned brown and fell off. I think this was because I forgot to water them before taking them out of the pots and putting them in the ground. They have recovered now though, although I did think i was going to lose them. These are surprisingly sensitive plants. I also, think that if they are given the opportunity to dry out, they just might recover. Fingers crossed for you!!
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