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Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman' tree-form

PeggyTXPeggyTX Posts: 555
edited May 2021 in Plants
I'm in Central TX (growing zone 8b, occasional -7ºC-9ºC nights in winter) and have ordered 2 of these lovely trees for our rural cabin property.  https://inlandvalleygardenplanner.org/plants/ceanothus-ray-hartman/,  They were around 9£ each, shipping in 3 gallon pots, so if this experiment fails, it's not a terribly costly one, at least. :) 

I've read up on the needs for these trees and think they will be suited (for the most part) to our climate.  They tolerate heat, drought and have low water needs (liking more water in winter though).  The literature says they are hardy to 0ºC to -4ºC.  

As we all know, many plants that are said to not tolerate hard freezes often can, sending out new shoots the next season even when tops freeze back.  Here in Central TX, we do get 2-3 freezes each winter to about -7ºC, sometimes a bit lower, but rarely, and such drops in temp are usually of short duration (one night, maybe 2).  This year's arctic blast in Texas that lasted 3-5 nights straight, they feel, was a once-in-hundred-year event.  Doubt we'll EVER see that again.  

So my question is:  How has your Ceanothus (even if not the Ray Hartman cultivar I purchased) come through winter freezes?  I know the UK doesn't get freezes too often, like us here in Texas.  Has your Ceanothus cultivar survived -7ºC and lived to re-shoot new growth the next season?  I would appreciate your personal experience with these gorgeous plants and welcome any advice you might have for me.   
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  • PeggyTXPeggyTX Posts: 555
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    My low-carb recipe site: https://buttoni.wordpress.com/
  • SeahorseFriendSeahorseFriend Tyne and WearPosts: 73
    Hi Peggy, I recently bought two ceanothus ('A.T. Johnson') in pots before the recent UK cold snap in April. In my area it hasn't reached -7 but sometimes reached -5c at night, so maybe my experiences can help you. I planted one in the ground straightaway but couldn't decide where to put the other, so it stayed in the pot. Therefore it's been interesting to compare the two!

    This is the one I planted. When frost was expected (pretty much every night of April) I wrapped it in fleece. However, after the worst cold was over I gave up on that, even though there were still frosts (around -2). It's looking good though the foliage got a bit frost-nipped, and the buds should open soon.



    By contrast this is the potted one, which I carried into an unheated greenhouse each night during the severe -5 frosts. It avoided any frost damage but the buds are much smaller than the other.



    Conclusion: whatever the weather, they prefer being in the ground! But yours should be fine if you protect them in very cold temps. Though I have heard that ceanothus don't live very many years, but at least they'll look good meanwhile  :)


  • PeggyTXPeggyTX Posts: 555
    Oh, thank you so much for the reply and such a helpful, informative one, SeahorseFriend!  Both of yours fared quite well, it would appear.  So kind of you to go to the trouble to post your lovely photos as well.  Both your shrubs look real good to me, too!  And I'm particularly pleased you were able to give me a comparison of the potted vs. in-ground experience, because I was actually thinking about (since it has now warmed up in Texas) leaving them in pots for a year here in the city where I could keep an eye on them more frequently before carrying them down to the cabin property for planting, but now I think going ahead and plant them on would indeed be the better choice.  Frankly, I think MOST trees and shrubs prefer being in the ground versus being in pots so they can spread their roots as much as they want.   Don't think I'll make an exception with these then.  You and I will have to compare via photos occasionally how our "twins" are getting on in future.  :)

      
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  • PeggyTXPeggyTX Posts: 555
    edited May 2021
    Oh, and on the lifespan of these lovelies, I, too, had heard they live 10-15 years on average.  However this article thinks that may not be true, but that their water needs (and summer dislike of too much water) are not always managed properly in all gardens and that THAT may be the cause of "sudden death" so to speak.  I'm hoping mine get going and prove this author correct on that point:  https://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/139--ceanothus-ray-hartman
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  • AthelasAthelas Posts: 565
    edited May 2021
    Looking forward to seeing your trees grow @SeahorseFriend, and that Ray Hartman looks amazing @PeggyTX! Where I am in the UK it only goes down to -5C or so, rarely any snow but a lot of rain in winter. A windy day, like today, goes to about 28 mph. 

    My neighbour has had a large ceanothus outside his house for about 6 or 7 years now — it was part of the outdoor planting in the new build housing development where I live so he didn’t plant it, and I don’t think he prunes or does anything to it.




    I have my own much smaller one, a ‘Silver Surprise’, variegated with upright habit and far fewer pale lavender flowers, I think I planted it 3 years ago. It’s outside, in the ground against an east-facing wall.



    Both trees aren’t watered or have any particular care given to them (apart from watering in the first year or so for my Silver Surprise), but they seem happy and I hope will last a while. No frost damage this spring — which was particularly frosty in the UK — as far as I can tell, although it’s likely that when they were small years ago they didn’t have to go through particularly frosty weather, and now they’re mature enough to withstand it.
  • SeahorseFriendSeahorseFriend Tyne and WearPosts: 73
    Hi @PeggyTX, I'd love to compare photos in future. Now I need to decide where to plant my potted one, ASAP! Thanks for the link - it's very interesting, though I fear there's no way to avoid summer rain in North East England  :)

    @Athelas, your neighbour's tree is AMAZING and gives me hope for mine, also I love the variegated foliage on yours, so beautiful.
  • PeggyTXPeggyTX Posts: 555
    @Athelas, your neighbor's specimen is gorgeous!  I just think these (and Jacarandas) are just breathtaking trees.  And I've not seen the variegated cultivar in any of my webg research.  I'm getting to really appreciate variegated plants as I get older.  THey can have so much impact without any blooms at all!  I hope my Ceanothus will get as tall as yours in 3 years.  Thanks so much for sharing your photos!
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  • PeggyTXPeggyTX Posts: 555
    @SeahorseFriend, but all that summer rain you get is precisely why your gardens and lawns are so green and lovely.  If it contributes to shortening the lifespan of a Ceanothus, well.........I see that as a nice trade-off for some of the most beautiful rose gardens I've ever seen.  :) 
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  • PeggyTXPeggyTX Posts: 555
    edited May 2021
    @SeahorseFriend,  mine only just arrived, a little over 2' tall, or about 65cm.  They look very sturdy and healthy, although no buds/blooms on mine yet.  Here are the leaves up close on my cultivar.  Can't wait to drive them down to the cabin next week and plant them out.  :)   
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  • robairdmacraignilrobairdmacraignil CorkPosts: 586
    Those look like healthy plants and best of luck with them. I have five ceanothus of different varieties and they have been doing well here in spite of heavy rains and occasional snow and frosts. The different types have different flowering times here so its better to have them not just all finish at the same time. The smallest one is flowering nicely at the moment while the biggest one I have is just past its best flowering and the rest are just about to flower. There may be parts of your garden that will stay a bit warmer than others so if you can find places more exposed to the sun in winter they may be able to radiate that heat back out to the surroundings at night and not be as cold as other places. South of an area of stone might work for example. Also frost pockets can be a problem if you plant in a place where cold air accumulates so if you can put them somewhere that cold air that is heavier can move easily away you may have less chance of frost damage. We get cold winds from the east here as well so I tend to put more delicate plants in places they may get a bit of shelter from that direction.
    Happy gardening!
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