Ceanothus americanus

(New Jersey Tea, Kadegimnedu)

New Jersey Tea in flower

Zone: 3 to 8

Soil: sand to loam

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: White

Bloom period: Early summer

Height: Up to 3 feet

Moisture: Dry

Attracts: A variety of insects.

Notes: New Jersey tea is a low shrub that is native to the eastern half of North America including Ontario. It flowers for a couple of weeks in early summer and then becomes a rather drab plant. Each inflorescence is a small 2-inch panicle covered in lots of tiny white flowers.

After waiting a few years for this shrub to reach a reasonable size, you will be pleasantly surprised by its wildlife value. It attracts a plethora of insects including beneficial wasps and some interesting beetles. Several different butterflies such as hairstreaks will visit new Jersey tea and it is also a host plant for the summer azure and the mottled duskywing. Unfortunately, the beetles will eat some of the flowers, but one has to accept that plants in a wildlife garden are not just for pollinators.

This plant thrives in well-drained soils under drought conditions due to a deep tap root. I would not plant this in a clay soil. Since it is a small shrub, it is easy to find a spot for it in a perennial flower bed. While it does grow en masse in the wild, I would not try to imitate this in a suburban garden because you would be left with a lot of unremarkable plants when it is not in bloom. Instead, try planting single specimens to offset other flowers with strong colours. Butterfly milkweed is a great companion plant for new Jersey tea. Since, it is a shrub, you can trim it down to a particular size after it has flowered.

Ceanothus americanus - New Jersey Tea
New Jersey Tea with butterfly weed
New Jersey Tea in combination with butterfly weed.
Ceanothus with Ammophila
A species of Ammophila shows up to feed off New Jersey Tea.


Flower longhorn beetles, such as this Trigonarthris minnesotana, will show up when New Jersey Tea is in flower. They feed on both the nectar and the pollen and will chew up the stamens as well.