Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalus) Quick Facts:
Nectar plant to many butterflies including Swallowtails and Monarchs
Deciduous perennial shrub/small tree
Native to most of the US but not often found in Pacific Northwest
Hardy in USDA zones 4-10
Full sun to partial shade
White to pale pink floral balls bloom most of the summer
6-12 feet tall, with 4-8 feet spread
Reseeds and spreads from root runners
Found growing wild near ponds or streams
Butterflies on the Buttonbush
This native nectar source is loved by all things winged–Tiger Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Monarchs, Painted Ladies, Lorquin’s Admirals, and Skippers are just a few of the butterflies that love to belly up to the Buttonbush buffet. You’ll also want to look for hummingbirds and bees stopping by for a quick snack.
Featuring Fantastic Flowers
One-inch floral balls that range in color from white to pale pink waft an intensely sweet fragrance throughout the garden, and blooms can last for most of the summer–June to September.
The distinctive flowers, spheres spiked all over with prominent pistils, have been described as “pincushions” and “sputniks.” These glorious globes at last develop into clusters of rounded nutlets that are relished by birds–especially waterfowl. Mallard ducks are known to be especially fond of Buttonbush nuts.
This highly ornamental deciduous shrub or small tree (about 6-12 feet tall at maturity with a spread of 4-8 feet) sports glossy, dark green leaves that can turn yellow or streak with crimson before dropping in the winter.
How to Grow Cephalanthus occidentalus Plants
The Buttonbush likes water. Look for it growing wild near a pond or alongside a stream. It can thrive in a swamp or bog, and is a great aid in erosion control. The shrub is native to the lower 48 states, but spotty in the west and very sparse in the Pacific Northwest area.
It will thrive in a rich, peaty moist soil in full sun to part shade, but it will tolerate drier conditions if watered faithfully. Ours are in large pots that are watered every 1-2 days in the growing months. It can self-sow or spread from root runners, and fresh seeds can be planted without any special treatment. It is not considered invasive, however.
Buttonbush is hardy in zones 4-10. It appreciates a bit of light pruning in the early spring to keep growth compact and encourage prolific blooming.
Rush to Claim Your Buttonbush!
It’s a rare plant that has flowers this fragrant, long-lasting, and beautiful–and those blooms attract a bounty of butterflies! Plan a spot in your plot and order your Buttonbush today!