New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothus americanus

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Summer
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Soil Conditions: Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry
Color: White
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 2-3 feet
Spacing: 1 foot

New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a compact, dense, rounded shrub which typically grows 2-3 feet tall. It occurs in prairies, glades, dry open woods and thickets. Cylindrical clusters (1-2 inches long) of tiny, fragrant, white flowers (1/8 inch) appear on long stalks at the stem ends or upper leaf axils in late spring. Toothed, broad-ovate, medium to dark green leaves (to 4 inches long) are gray and hairy below. Young twigs are noticeably yellow and stand out in winter. The blooming period occurs during early to mid-summer, lasting about 3-4 weeks. There is a pleasant floral fragrance. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 3-lobed seed capsules up to ¼-inch across. At maturity, these capsules become dark brown or black, and they split open to mechanically eject their seeds up to several feet. Each capsule contains 3 seeds that are 2-3 mm. in length, brown to dark brown, glossy, and ovoid in shape. The root system consists of a stout taproot.

Habitats include mesic to dry black soil prairies, gravel prairies, sand prairies, hill prairies, sandy savannas, rocky upland forests, limestone glades, and barrens with scrubby vegetation. Occasional fire is a beneficial management tool in promoting the development and spread of this plant.

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in sandy loams or rocky soils with good drainage. Thick, woody, red roots go deep and help plant withstand droughty conditions, but make established shrubs difficult to transplant. Germination from seed can be slow and difficult – exposing them to hot water may be helpful. Transplants are easier to manage and faster to develop. Drought resistance is very good – under severe conditions, the leaves will become discolored and shrivel, but quickly revive when rainfall returns.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Tolerates heat and drought due to deep roots
  Susceptible to leaf spot and powdery mildew
  Good for ground cover
 Further Information

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