Ceanothus americanus

New Jersey Tea

$3.00 - $24.00

1/8 oz.
Out of Stock

3 Pack
Tray of 50
Out of Stock

New Jersey Tea blooms in a spectacular display of fragrant white flowers from June to August.  Clusters of tiny blossoms pop open in nearly-synchronized explosions, covering the mounded shrub.  Growing between 2 and 3 feet tall, this sturdy little bush flaunts striking dark green foliage that provides visual interest even when not in bloom.  The rounded, compact shape lends itself equally well to both traditional landscape design and naturalized pollinator garden aesthetics.

Ceanothus americanus is a nitrogen-fixing species that prefers medium-dry soil but can tolerate rocky conditions.  It blooms best in part to full sun.  The thick, red-hued roots make it drought-tolerant but difficult to move once established, so choose the site carefully.  New Jersey Tea produces flowers on new stems, so any pruning should be done early in the season.  Mature shrubs can be cut to the ground in spring to encourage more vigorous growth. 

An important host plant for Spring Azure and Summer Azure caterpillars, New Jersey Tea also attracts bees and hummingbirds, and its seeds provide food for wild turkeys and quail.  Deer, elk, and rabbits also love to browse this plant, so protection may be necessary, especially when the plant is young.  The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has listed this species as 'Special Value to Native Bees' including the rare Yellow Banded Bumble Bee.  It is also listed as a species that ‘Supports Conservation Biological Control.’

This native plant has a lot of historic applications: Native Americans used the roots, flowers, and foliage for a variety of purposes.  After the Boston Tea Party, many American colonists steeped its leaves as a flavorful (albeit caffeine-free) alternative to imported tea.  This is where the common name, New Jersey Tea, originates.

Other common names include Redroot, Red Root Tea, Wild Lilac, and Mountain Snowbell 

The boiling water treatment (Germination Code: B) helps break open the hard seed coat. This may happen naturally with freeze/thaw cycles, but better germination can be expected if hot water treatment is done before fall planting outside, or artificial cold-moist stratification in a fridge (Germination Code: C).

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Potted 3-Packs May/June August/September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Trays of 38* May/June N/A 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
Potted Trays of 50 N/A August 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
*This species is a choice in the Mix & Match - Create Your Own Tray! s/o 2024

Ceanothus americanus - New Jersey Tea

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

11 Questions asked on Ceanothus americanus

Is this shrub tolerant of run off from roads treated with road salt?
Road salt and plant hardiness/adaptability is a great question but unfortunately one that hasn't been studied a lot - at least on native plants. Our own experience on a small site next to a moderately-salted road have shown that similar upland prairie plants to Ceanothus, like Dalea purpurea, Asclepias tuberosa, and Aster ericoides, did very well after a few seasons of this abuse. We think it would be worth trying and would love to hear your experiences.
Is New Jersey Tea late to green up in the spring?
Certainly as a true shrub, it will show signs of life later than some herbaceous forbs. But it's June 4th here in SE MN (zone 4-5) and our New Jersey Tea is leafed out (both from the ground and on last years' stems) so if you don't see this by early June, I fear yours winter-killed.
Almost embarrassed to ask this but I'm new to natives/gardening. Bought seeds from Prairie Moon for fall planting. Do I need to soak these in hot water Germ Code B before planting mid-October? Thanks!
Hi Betty, Great question! Germination Code B is a little unusual. We do suggest soaking them in hot water. Specifically, boil some water, remove from heat, pour the water over the seeds, and the seeds sit in the water for about 24 hours. After that you can sow the seeds outside.
Can these be planted in late spring if the boiling seed treatment is applied?
Hi Alexander, You certainly can plant the seeds in spring after a soak in boiling hot water, but you still would not expect germination until the following spring, after the seed has over-wintered. Because this species is both Germination Code B and C, you will need both the boiling water and cold-moist stratification to break dormancy.
Will this species tolerate heavy clay? I have excellent, rich, Illinois clay in my yard, but I'm wondering if it might be too rich for this plant? The bed I am looking to possibly plant one of these lovelies generally stays very moist (I have so far never seen it dry out and crack) but it could almost be used for play dough, it is so heavy.
Hi Hannah, This species will probably not do well in your yard. It prefers sandy/loamy, well-drained soil.
Is there a benefit to winter-sowing these seeds, versus just planting them outside in the same place that they would eventually be transferred to?
Hi Judith, We recommend direct-sowing the seeds outdoors in the place you would like them to grow. Please pay attention to the germination codes. For these, you would do a hot-water treatment, and then sow outdoors in the fall/winter for germination the following spring.
(In terms of seed treatment) The latest seed packet suggests B *or* C(60) - I always thought to do both. I suppose my question is, if I sow outside in winter, should I still do boiling water treatment?
Thanks for your note, these requirements are hard to translate onto a seed packet sometimes. It is thought that if you plant outside in fall or winter, the seed coat may break open during the freeze/thaw cycle, so code "B" may not be necessary. However, you may see more even germination rates if you do the hot water treatment first before natural or artificial stratification. Maybe "B and C(60) OR Natural C" would be better.. but I don't know if we have the room on the packet for that!
How long approximately will it take to bloom from seed?
Hi Regina. We'd expect to see them bloom within 2 to 5 growing seasons. It really depends on the site conditions, though - especially for shrubby species like New Jersey Tea.
I have heard some people say this plant is hard to grow and/or an inconsitent bloomer. I'm hoping to use this as a specimen plant in a low growing garden. Have you had the same problems with it being inconsistent from year to year?
Hi Nick. This species is rather picky - if it does not like the site conditions, it will not persist. But when it is happy, New Jersey Tea does exceedingly well. It performs best in full sun.
Is New Jersey Tea suited as a foundation plant? The description says it has a tree like root system. How far from the foundation should I plant this shurb?
Hi Reiko. New Jersey Tea is a considered a small shrub; if it likes the site, this plant will look great next to a house or outbuilding. We recommend planting it at least 3-5' from the foundation.
I have a 2- or 3-year-old New Jersey Tea that is doing well and I would like to share. Can they be divided? If so, could I do that now ( late June in MN)?
Hi Anne. New Jersey Tea develops a deep taproot; attempting to divide this species will likely damage the taproot and potentially kill all portions of the plant. If it is mature enough to bloom and produce seeds, there may be juveniles nearby that would tolerate being transplanted; be sure to dig deep enough for as much of the taproot as possible. A dormant transplant is preferred, but if the young plants are kept well watered during their transition to new sites, they should acclimate in time.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
3 feet
Bloom Time
June, July, August
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code