As a group, these are some of the prettiest flowering shrubs around, with blooms ranging from white through all shades of blue to deep violet. Unfortunately, most fail miserably in the heavy soils and rainy, humid climates of the South. A few notable exceptions are listed below. Give them excellent drainage and full sun. They rarely suffer pest damage.
C. americanus. NEW JERSEY TEA. US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native from Canada south to South Carolina and west to Texas. Compact, rounded shrub 34 ft. tall and wide, with slender, upright branches. Oval, pointed, 2- to 3-in.-long, dark green leaves may turn yellow in fall. White, 1- to 2-in.-long flower clusters appear atop the plant in spring and early summer. Colonists reputedly brewed a tea substitute from the leaves during the boycott of British tea prior to the American Revolution.
C.delilianus. FRENCH HYBRID CEANOTHUS. LS, CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Result of a cross between C. americanus and a blue-flowered Mexican species; has oval, dark green leaves to 3 in. long and 5-in. clusters of gorgeous blue flowers. 'Gloire de Versailles' grows 10 ft. high and wide, with powder-blue blooms in late summer or fall. 'Henri Desfoss' is similar but more compact at 5-6 ft. high and wide; violet-blue flowers contrast beautifully with wine-red new stems.
C.pallidus. US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Result of a cross between a close relative of C. americanus and C.delilianus. Grows to form a broad, 2- to 3-ft.-high mound. Shiny, oval to oblong green leaves are 12 in. long. Bears dense clusters of pink flowers in summer. 'Marie Simon' bears soft pink blossoms, 'Ceres' lilac-pink blooms. C. p. plenus has pink buds that open to double white flowers.