Weird-looking but spectacular are the blooms on Cephalanthus occidentalis, usually referred to as the Buttonbush. The blooms are perfectly round balls or spheres!
Buttonbush is native to the Eastern United States and as far west as Texas. Although you might have never seen one, when found growing naturally, it is usually on the bank of a pond or stream. Close friends of mine have a pond in West Point, Georgia, that is almost completely surrounded with large Buttonbush plants. Such a beautiful sight it is, when in bloom with all the pollinators buzzing around it.
This native shrub absolutely loves water and likes having wet feet all the time, but it can be grown in ordinary garden soil too. Buttonbush is very easy to grow and tolerates almost any soil. Heavy clay is not a problem at all.
The flowers are fragrant, and like many blooms favored by pollinators, smell like honey.
Leaves are dark green and shiny. I have not noticed any pest or disease problems with the buttonbush. This shrub leafs out late, sometimes not until May here in Georgia. The leafs turn a soft yellow in fall before dropping.
Cephalanthus occidentalis will reach heights up to 7 feet or more, and will do so quickly in wet soil.
Plant Buttonbush in full sun or partial shade on a pond or stream bank if you are lucky enough to have one on your property. If not, plant it where you can reach it with a hose on a regular basis. Mine are planted by the greenhouse where I can water it whenever I think it needs it.
Buttonbush will grow in any soil. Regular garden soil is fine. Whatever you have--Heavy to average soil. Clay soil is fine. But amend it with some composted manure or compost to add fertility.
Cephalanthus occidentalis loves water. Keep soil moist to wet. This shrub even tolerates standing water. Don’t allow to dry out.
|Bumblebees love Blooms on the Buttonbush|
The Buttonbush can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 4 – 10.
If you want a whole row of them or plan to plant in mass, space them about 5 feet apart.
Buttonbush benefits from being cut back severely every few years to rejuvenate the plant.
Plant a buttonbush in your garden and the bumblebees and butterflies will certainly thank you! I have seen 2 or 3 bumblebees on one flower all at the same time.