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Item # Packet size Nett Weight Number Seeds(approx) Price Qty
Small 0.22 g 50 seeds $3.30
Medium 0.45 g 100 seeds $5.80

Please note: all seeds are sold by weight and seed count is approximate.

To keep seed prices low much of our seed is semi cleaned. More Info

 

An excellent shrubby perennial hardy to zone 4 and very adaptable to most conditions. Given full sun in zones 6b and colder some shade in hotter zones the hardy plant will grow almost anywhere in any soil except wet and waterlogged. It is extremely drought tolerant and very tough. IT produces a long tap root making it hard to move once established but that root will also hold together loose soils so its great for controlling erosion especially on steep banks. The lovely flowers burst forth in profusion in late spring early summer and last about a month producing a delightful lilac like aroma. Butterflies and hummingbirds love the flowers. Grows to about 3 feet in height so makes good semi ground cover for hotter dry areas or unused ground. Needs very little care once established may need a little weeding around until its large enough to beat out the weeds. The only down side to this lovely plant is deer and rabbits think its lovely too so it will need some protection.

Description of New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).
This is a unusually variable Native American perennial plant reaching about 3 feet (1m) in height but can get as tall as 5 feet (1.5m). It sends up multiple straight stems from the base producing a open but bushy appearance. The stems are light green to slight yellow when young becoming darker and woody with age. However the leaves can be either alternate or opposite and occur on the entire length of the stem. The leaves themselves are often oval in shape with a pointed tip, but they can be more oblong to spear shaped and can be up to 3 inches (7.6cm) long and 2 inches (5cm) wide with finely serrated edges, but they can be smooth too and may curl slightly under. The upper leaf color is medium to dark green and mostly smooth, but it can be slightly rough from sparse stiff hairs. The leaf can be wrinkled along the major veins. The underside is paler green are fairly hairy with more hairs along the veins that the rest of the leaf.
The upper portion of the stem develops into panicles of flowers, other flowers arise from the leaf nodes of the upper leaves, these can be from 2-8 inches (5-20 cm) long. The actual panicles are 2-5 inches (5-12.7 cm) long and 2-3 inches (5-7.6cm) wide. They consist of many small branches that in turn support clusters of flowers on long white stalks or pedicels up to 1 inch (2.5cm) long. Each cluster contains about 10-14 individual flowers that sit on the end of each stalk and is no more than 0.25 inches (0.5cm) across. Unopened they look like tiny clenched fists, when opened they show five white petals with long thin bases and broader but curved outer section, the whole resembling a tobacco pipe. The center has a cluster of five shorter stamens with large black tips. Flowers open a few at a time in each group providing a longer blooming time that lasts about a month and produce a delightful lilac-like aroma. The are followed by small dark brown seed capsules which when mature will split and eject the seeds several feet from the parent plant. In this way they can create large colonies. The plants create a large taproot and do not like to be moved once established.

Growing New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) from Seed.
These seeds need stratifying before they will germinate. All our seeds are kept in cold conditions before they are shipped out so part of the process is already begun. As soon as your seeds arrive place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to proceed. Seeds need a period of moist cold before they will germinate there are several methods to do this see our Stratification instructions to determine the best method for you. Some sources suggest scarification (roughing up the seed coat) is necessary but we have never found this to be so. However refer to our scarification suggestions if you want to try it.

We recommend sowing in small peat pots or individual cell trays for best results.
Once seeds have been removed from moist stratification pot them into small peat pots or cell trays if not already sown. Place pots in a warm sunny location with temperatures around 70 F (21 C). Germination can be erratic which is why we recommend individual pots. If in individual cell trays move seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and transplant to peat pots or plastic pots no smaller than 3 inches across.
Seedlings begin to develop their tap roots early which is why we recommend peat pots. If using plastic pots check to see if the roots are visible at the bottom of the pot as soon as they are you must transplant out. Peat pots can be planted directly in the ground when roots begin to show through the pot. With plastic pots take care when removing the pot not to damage the roots. If the roots have become pot bound it will be necessary to tease them out so that they are not circling the pot and ease out the tap root before planting. This can stunt the growth of the plant but leaving roots knotted together can produce girdling roots that can later strangle and kill the plant. Best to plant out early when roots are still developing and avoid this potential issue.

Location and Care of New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).
Choose your location carefully since New Jersey Tea produces strong tap roots that are not easy to move once established. These shrubs prefer full sun on a well drained soil. Full sun is essential in cooler zones down to zone 6 warmer zones (7-8) which also tend to have brighter light they can tolerate some partial shade. In zone 8 ensure they have a position where breezes can cool them as they don't do as well in hot areas.
A very adaptable plant that can grow almost anywhere the soil is well drained. It cannot tolerate wet and waterlogged soils. Does well in almost any other soil and can withstand tough conditions. The tap root makes it very drought tolerant and it can survive fires and will regrow from the tap roots. This makes it a good plant for fire hazard areas.
Its good on rocky soils and sandy soils. Once established it takes little or no care even in periods of drought. Makes an ideal ground cover since it does not grow too tall. Ideal for dry scrub areas, banks and cuttings where the deep roots can help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. It can produce suckers and form large colonies if conditions are ideal for it.

Pollinator and Wildlife with New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).
The flowers are pollinator magnates. Butterflies flock in as go most native pollinators, hummingbirds and moths. The leaves are the preferred food of several butterfly larva including Spring Azure, Summer Azure, Mottled Duskywing.

On the downside. Deer and rabbits like it too. Deer with denude bushes and rabbits eat the young stems as they grow. So it needs protection. Many species will eat the seeds, many birds including turkeys, squirrels and small rodents.

Harvesting New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).
Plants are carefully dug around in autumn or spring to reveal some of the roots with a deep read color. Harvesting several roots from each plant does little damage unless the main tap root is damaged so care should be taken when harvesting any roots and soil must be carefully replaced afterwards and the shrubs well watered.

Culinary Uses of New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).
Its used to make tea (hence the name). Used as a substitute for black tea. This started in 1774 when supplies or 'real' tea were hard to come by. NJ tea was pronounced the 'best substitute' from Native American plants. Leaves are first cured by immersing fresh leaves in a boiling decoction of other leaves and small branches of the same shrubs, removing them then drying. The result has a 'pleasant agreeable taste' but contains no caffeine.

Medical uses of New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).
The roots have been used by Native Americans for a very long time as they have powerful astringent and antispasmodic with good expectorant properties. They are used in the treatment of bronchitis, and all other bronchial complaints including asthma, whooping cough, regular coughs, catarrh , sore throats and tonsillitis. It is also used to treat fevers, dysentery, hemorrhoids and venereal diseases. It also has a stimulatory effect on the lymphatic system.
A decoction of the bark is used as a skin wash for cancer and venereal sores

Other uses of New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)
The flowers can be used to create a gentle soap as they are rich in saponins so when crushed and mixed with water produce a acceptable lather with a delightful aroma. A simple way to do this is just t rub wet blossoms over the body. It can also be used as a hair tonic.
Dyes. Several different ones are produced from this plant. The flowers make a light green dye, the rest of the above ground plant makes on that is cinnamon red which the roots produce a strong red dye.

Other names.
New Jersey Tea, Redroot, soap bloom, NJ tea.