New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

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Used for tea after the Boston Tea Party. Attractive, small shrub. If older plants begin to look ragged, trim them back to 4 inches.
Item #: CEAMEs
Binomial Ceanothus americanus

Even though the leaves contain no caffeine, New Jersey Tea was used as a tea substitute after the Boston Tea Party. An attractive, small shrub that will improve soil quality by making nitrogen more available. This is one of Missouri's best shrubs for attracting bees.
Prairie redroot is a very similar plant and could be substituted in landscape design. The leaves of New Jersey Tea are usually broader and slightly pointed at the tips, while prairie redroot leaves are more narrow. Prairie redroot blooms a little earlier.
If older plants begin to look ragged, trim them back to 4 inches to encourage new growth. Deer and rabbits both find New Jersey Tea appetizing. If they are over-abundant in your area, you may have trouble getting these plants established.

Uses: Drought resistant, medicinal, bees, butterflies, edible

Bloom time: May - June

Height: 3 to 4 feet

Space: 2 to 3 feet

Sun: Full sun to light shade

Moisture: Dry to average

Seed: We've had success getting this seed to germinate by pouring near-boiling water over it and letting it soak for 24 hours. After the soak, we mix the seed with damp potting soil and store the mixture in the refrigerator until we're ready for it to germinate. A month of refrigeration should be sufficient.

  • 200 seeds per packet
  • 7,000 seeds per ounce
  • 1 ounce per 230 square feet (yields 30 seeds per square foot)

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