This is another of my paddle-by plants. I see it a ton from a canoe on a river. It's in native gardens too and here and there you'll see it as a surprise in regular gardens. It stands out because it flowers in the summer heat and those flowers. They are spherical! Perfectly spherical.
It's weird, native, and a pollinator plant. Insects love the flowers and I read mentions that birds eat the seeds. Since I first wrote this, I learned more interesting facts about buttonbush in Georgia Gardening Magazine where specific insect species were mentioned - butterflies and honeybees love the flowers, plus it's larval food for colorful sphinx moths. The writer, Norman Winter, put a bird count on the buttons too - informing his readers that 25 species of birds eat the seeds.
I knew Cephalanthus has a vast growing range, but Mr. Winter also informed me that it's native in all but 11 states and that it's found in Canada too.
Fiber Optics was chosen as tamer variety of buttonbush, growing to 6' tall. Typically Cephalanthus can burgeon up to 12' tall.
Plus, Fiber Optics' new growth is colorful! It's red when first emerging, turning copper, then settling down to dark green. The mature leaves are darker green than typical.
We have cultivars of two other native shrubs that grow alongside buttonbush in the wild: Cayenne silky dogwood and elderberry.
Fiber Optics buttonbush is another First Editions® shrub we proudly grow.
colorful new growth, lover of wet soils, pollinator plant, bird food
buttonbush, button-willow, honey bells
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
- Spring: red, copper
- Summer: dark green
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Soil Moisture Requirements
average garden soil, moist, wet, swampy, standing water
Soil pH Requirements
full sun, part shade
To Make It Thrive
Buttonbush chooses to grow in wet soils near bodies of water (rivers, swamps) when left to its own devices, in the wild. Even though it adapts to typical garden conditions, it's a good option for planting in wet soils - someplace where it will have wet feet that other plants don't like. It doesn't like dry soils. Give it full sun for best flowering.