Bottlebrush buckeye is a captivating, native, and mammoth-sized shrub with tremendous white "bottlebrush" flowers. The flowers are perfectly named: bottlebrush buckeye aptly describes both the whiskery flowers and the buckeye-looking seeds.
The compound palmate leaves, reminiscent of windmill palm fronds, are distinctive.
You'll see this buckeye shrub in big parks or expanse sweeps of lawn with plenty of root space and that's appropriate - it layers and will colonize (that's good!) and the roots need rich soil and growing space to tap ample water.
The spikes of white flowers are showstoppers, then comes fall with the yellow leaf color and buckeyes (the seeds) popping out of their wrappers.
Collect those buckeyes and plant them! But . . . make sure the squirrels don't dig them up and eat them. Protect the seeds by covering your pots with chicken wire or bird netting until the seeds germinate in the spring.
Early Dormancy Alert: In my hot climate of zone 8a in extra hot summers, bottlebrush buckeyes sometime slip into early dormancy and we don't get much/any fall color.
By early dormancy, I mean the shrubs can entirely defoliate as early as September. Don't be alarmed - this is not a problem for buckeyes! Red and yellow buckeyes also go dormant early (these two can do so even in August), same with some cherries and hackberry trees, in our hot summers. It's how they handle heat stress and the plants are fine.
We have two related native buckeye tree species - red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) and yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava).
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
- Spring: light green
- Summer: dark green
- Fall: yellow
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Soil Moisture Requirements
moist-but-draining, no standing water
Soil pH Requirements
sun, part shade, shade
To Make It Thrive
In the Deep South, place it in at least partial shade or afternoon shade. Further north, full sun is tolerable. In any region, plant it in soils rich with organic matter and give it extra water when the clouds don't. As with so many shade plants, it does flower better when it gets more sun, but it grows more contentedly in lots of shade. With this balance to be achieved, look for areas amongst trees with gaps of sun or situations where it gets morning sun, but afternoon shade. We'll say it one more time, water bottlebrush buckeye during periods of drought - otherwise it will wilt.