Description & Overview

A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with sweet little white flowers with orange stamens. The leaves are large and palmately compound, turning from green to yellow in the fall.

Core Characteristics

Category: Shrub

Wisconsin Native: No - Native to North America

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 8-10 feet

Mature Spread: 10-15 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Suckering, mounded, coarse

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Prefers moist, rich soils but tolerates alkaline clay. Intolerant of drought.

Flower: Showy, fragrant, erect panicles 8 - 12" long with many long stamens; resembles a bottlebrush

Bloom Period: June

Foliage: Dark Green, Palmate

Fall Color: Golden - Yellow

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Pear - shaped nuts, 1 - 3 inches, few produced in Midwest (<2 per panicle)

Suggested Uses

Bottlebrush Buckeye is native to the southeast U.S. but handles our Wisconsin winters like a champ. It is naturally found in moist, partially-shaded woodland edges, slowly suckering to form thickets that catch the eye with its showy flowers and dense foliage, which also make it a wonderful option as a specimen.

Bottlebrush Buckeye will provide decent screening during the summer months when planted as a border, due to its relatively large compound leaves. When Bottlebrush Buckeye loses its leaves in the fall its resulting form lacks much of the finer branching, thereby producing much less screening. As a result, layering with other plants would be an effective way to maintain a screen into winter.

As an understory shrub, Bottlebrush Buckeye would be at home in the peripheral shade of a tree as a mid-layer to a woodland or shade garden.

A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with swe…
A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with swe…
A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with swe…
A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with swe…

Wildlife Value

Many butterflies like Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Giant Swallowtails, and Monarchs on the nectar. Hummingbirds feed on the nectar as well and it has been reported by the Arnold Arboretum to be a favorite of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds.

Solitary bees favor Bottlebrush Buckeye and are considered its essential pollinators.

Squirrels eat the seeds.

Bottlebrush Buckeye provides good dense cover in the season but the thick, sparse stems provide little cover in the winter months after the leaves have fallen.

Maintenance Tips

Make sure to top the soil with one to three inches of mulch and provide supplemental water when establishing.

It is best to prune as little as possible. Pruning can damage the natural form of the plant. If you must remove the spent flower stalks, do so immediately after flowering.

A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with swe…
A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with swe…

Pests/Problems

Leaves will scorch if the soil becomes too dry.

Bottlebrush Buckeye is considered deer and rabbit resistant though it should be stated that minor browse has been reported. You will likely see damage on other plants in your landscape before you see it on Bottlebrush Buckeye.

Leaf Lore

The seeds of the fruit are poisonous.

The specific epithet “Parviflora” can be broken down to mean small flower (parv = smol, flora = flower).

Bottlebrush Buckeye is the smallest of our native US buckeyes.

Companion Plants

In the full shade try Wisconsin native woodland perennials like Zig Zag Goldenrod and False Solomon’s Seal. Small shrubs that would work to beef up screening in the winter months if planted strategically around Bottlebrush Buckeye would be Siberian Cypress and Swamp Rose. Around the outer perimeter, where there is more light, plant Great Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, Wild Lupine, Red Milkweed, and Butterflyweed.

A slow-growing, suckering shrub with an interesting layered habit. Showy bottlebrush-shaped panicles that grow up to 8 inches long are loaded with swe…
johnsons nursery menomonee falls horticulturist julia feltes

Written by Julia Feltes