fbpx New Jersey tea | The Morton Arboretum

New Jersey tea

Flowers of New Jersey tea.

During June and July this low-growing, rounded shrub is a cloud of white flowers; use it in masses for best affect, as a tall ground cover, or on steep slopes.  While the flowers are remarkable on their own, New Jersey tea is a nectar source and a caterpillar and larva host, attracting an array of beautiful butterflies.

 "This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."   

Botanical name:

Ceanothus americanus

All common names:

New Jersey tea, wild snowbell, redroot

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Perennial,
  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Specimen,
  • Massing,
  • Foundation,
  • Mixed border

Size Range:

  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Sandy soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Road salt

Seasons of Interest:

  • early summer,
  • midsummer

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Mounded,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Slow,
  • Moderate

More Information:

New Jersey tea in full flower.
New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus)
photo: John Hagstrom

Tree & Plant Care

A low-growing sub-shrub reaching 3 to 4 feet high and wide. 
Plants can die back in winter months but return next spring.
Best in Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil.
Drought tolerant once established.
Thick, deep roots make it an excellent choice for rocky hillsides and slopes.
Prune only in summer months.

Disease, pests and problems

Prone to root rot in wet soils and  canker disease.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Can tolerate wind.
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value:  6
Common in prairies, open woods, and savannahs.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Nectar source for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves;  2 to 3 inches, ovate, dark green with a toothed margin.
Fragrant foliage when crushed.
Fall color is yellowish.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Terminal clusters of cloud-like white flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

A dry, triangular seed capsule.

Location of Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea) at the Arboretum