New Jersey Tea
(Picture Courtesy of: http://www.easywildflowers.com/quality/cea.amer.htm)
Description: Ceanothus americanus, New Jersey Tea is an attractive small rounded woody shrub and is sometimes called Snowball because of its small plumes of fluffy white flowers that bloom in early to mid-summer. Its versatile showy flowers are attractive in the formal perennial flower bed and the prairie meadow. New Jersey Tea grows best in well-drained average garden soil with full sun or partial shade but will tolerate dry, harsh conditions. It is a larval food source for the mottled Dusky-wing, and Spring Azure Butterfly and is a nice addition to the butterfly garden (New Jersey, 2015).
PROPAGATION PRACTICES: seeds, semi-hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings (NPIN,2015). Softwood cuttings are taken in early spring and are very common for herbs and vegetables. Semi-hardwood cuttings are favorable for evergreens. Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken between late summer and early winter. We will be looking into seed propagation method on this site.
SEED COLLECTION: late summer, early fall. Because dry capsules disperse seed, you may need to tie a clothe bag around the capsule to actually collect the seeds, not to lose them (NPIN, 2015).
SEED STORAGE: Short term storage- keep moist and cool (avoid freezing!). Moisture allows the seeds to continue respiration, while cool temperatures inhibit fungal and bacterial activity so that they do not rot during storage (Storing Your Seeds, 2015). Placing in the fridge may work, if you keep your fridge at a warmer setting. But placing the cutting in a basement or root cellar-type storage area is best if you do not have the means of a commercial greenhouse.
MATERIALS/TOOLS NEEDED: plastic bag, paper towel, water, metal file or knife, media, plastic container, pen, labeling material (tape), shovel, gloves
SEED TREATMENT (prior to planting): select a desired seed (New Jersey Tea). If the seed has a wax coating on it, as most commercial seeds due, scarification may be needed to help aide in the germination process by speeding up the passing of the seed dormancy. Use a file for scarification. If the seed does not have a wax coating on it, continue on without scarification. Scarification can still be done if there is no wax coating though, as it will aide in the speed-up of germination processes. Then place the seeds on a moist paper towel. Then fold the paper towel so the seeds do not roll away. Place into a plastic bag and label. You may also scarify the seed by placing the seed in hot water at 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Then place in cool water for 24-hours. The labeled bag should be placed in a room (growth chamber) that can maintain the temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 months (NPIN, 2015). The reason for the moist towel in a plastic bag in a growth room, is to allow the seed to germinate in a pathogen free environment as well as to get a jump start on growing root establishment. *scarification: in botany involves cutting the seed coat using abrasion, thermal stress, or chemicals to encourage germination (Science Sphere, 2013). Typically the plastic bag method is to test the seed viability and germination rate of the particular seed and cultivar of the seed. This is usually used for research purposes, but can also be fun to observe for an amuetuer.
OPTIONAL: You do not have to place the seed into a moist towel in the plastic bag. Another option would to be to directly plant the seed into the greenhouse media. With this, you can also conduct scarification. Once again allowing it to have a jump start on the root formation and germination process. This is the way most home gardeners perform seed propagation. If you have the correct growing conditions for the desired seed, it can be very viable. If you scarify the seed, the germination rate is increased.
(Pictures courtesy of: http://indoorgardentips.com/
-potting soil from store for non commercial use
-composted material will help in transplanting plants from one container to another, or from a container to the ground
-Vermiculite is sterile-good aeration and holds moisture. Perilite is similar to vermiculite; both are added to household potting soil.
-choose a grade that is suitable for propagation (How-to-Propagate, 2013). If you are unsure of any of these terms, buying the potting soil mix at your local nursery will be good.
TRANSPLANTING: Place media in desired container. Moisten the media, but be careful to not soak to the point where there is water coming out of the bottom of the container. Spread seeds in the media. Cover seeds with media. See growing conditions for placing of container and outdoor planting recommendations.
GROWING CONDITIONS: (courtesy of: wildflower.org)
Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, mesic sand, loam, or limey soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Limestone-based
Conditions Comments: This extremely adaptable species can withstand inhospitable conditions because of massive, deep roots. It is quick to recover after fire. (NPIN, 2015)
1. Ceanothus americanus New Jersey Tea Seed and Plants. (2015). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.easywildflowers.com/quality/cea.amer.htm
2. NPIN: Native Plant Database. (2015). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=CEAM
3. Seed Scarification in Botany – Science Sphere. (2013, February 26). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://sciencesphere.net/2013/02/scarification-in-botany.html
4. How to Propagate – Tools For Propagating Plants : HGTV Gardens. (2013, February 9). Retrieved February 25, 2015, from http://www.hgtvgardens.com/garden-basics/how-to-propagate-plants?offset=1
5. Storing Your Seeds for Long Life. (2015). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://howtosaveseeds.com/store.php