New Jersey Tea seems to be having a bit of a popularity boom lately, with seemingly everyone looking to add this beautiful, low-growing shrub to their landscape.
Easily grown in average soils and full to part sun, this shrub is drought tolerant and will top out at 2-3 feet tall, making it an excellent shrub for the more formal garden.
Your New Jersey Tea will be a hotbed of activity when in bloom, as hummingbirds feast on the tiny insects that eat the white blooms, and many bee species will visit this lovely throughout the summer.
This shrub gets its common name from it's use as a tea, especially during colonial times. New Jersey tea was a favorite after the Boston Tea Party.
Of note, C. americanus is the host plant for over 45 species of butterflies and moths in the larval stage, including the Mottled Duskywing, which specializes on the New Jersey Tea.
Use: Collect leaves when the plant is in full boom. Dry them throughly in the shade and then steep like a black tea. It does not have caffeine.
Source: grown from seed from garden plants with a long history in Plymouth county, MA. Original provenance unknown.
photo 2 courtesy of Dan Wilder
Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)
SIZE AND POT INFORMATION: More details coming in May type: shrub sun needs:
full sun, part sun/part shade
water needs: dry, average height: 3' plant spacing: 3' distance bloom time:
June, July, August
bloom color: white
good plant companions
Butterflyweed, black-eyed Susan, goldenrod
edible parts: the leaves can be dried and steeped for use as tea. Best to pick the leaves when the plant is in full bloom. salt tolerant. Some salt exposure should not be fatal to the plant but some leaf burning may still occur.