Cephalanthus occidentalis
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Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush



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Buttonbush is a deciduous shrub that is native to most of the lower 48 states save the Pacific Northwest region and some western states.  It is a member of the Coffee family, Rubiaceae.   It typically grows in USDA zones 4 through 9.  In these zones, Buttonbush requires full sun to partial shade, and medium to wet soils. Buttonbush can tolerate flood conditions and shallow standing water for short periods of time. It does not do well in dry soils.  In natural settings, Buttonbush is often found in thickets, low woods, swamps, and stream margins, where older shrubs will have many branches and twisted trunks (see photos). Since it is tolerant of very wet soils, it is an ideal candidate for a rain garden or wetland restoration project. 

Growing up to 12' tall and 8' wide, this showy shrub is visited by many different species. The name of this shrub comes from the interesting flowers, which are arranged in small spheres with protruding anthers. Its tiny white flowers bloom all summer and are attractive to many different bee and butterfly species, including the swallowtail butterfly. Fruiting heads appear throughout the winter and are consumed by many waterfowl and shorebirds. Although the flowers and seeds are consumed, the foliage is poisonous to livestock and other animals.  

Dormant bare root plants ship each year during optimal transplanting season: fall (October) or spring (April/May). Our bare root tree is 3 years old and we trim to a minimum height of 18".
Cephalanthus occidentalis - Buttonbush

Map Key

This map shows the native and adventive range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

1 Question asked on Cephalanthus occidentalis






Q ruth • 05/24/2019 I'm in CT. I planted 2 Buttonbush on May 12 and they have not yet leafed out. I fear they are dead.
A Prairie Moon • 05/24/2019 Hi Ruth. This is one of the latest wetland shrubs to leaf out in the spring so I think it's too early to call it a failure. It's been a cold spring also. If you look closely on the branches, tiny buds, and not brittle dry stems, would be a good indication that it is alive. Give it a few weeks and if you see nothing by mid-June we can refund or replace.
SEED:

Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, download: Seed Starting Basics.

BARE ROOTS:

We dig bare-root plants from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

POTTED PLANTS:

Trays of 38 plants and 3-packs leave our Midwest greenhouse based on species readiness (well-rooted for transit) and based on order date; shipping begins early-May and goes into June. Plant cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting instructions/care are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges:
SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
over $100.00: 5% of the total seed cost

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $7.50
over $50.00: 15% of the total plant cost

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season:

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within a day or two upon receipt.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 38 and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve).  We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May.  Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.

Delivery:

We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.

FOR MORE DETAILED SHIPPING INFORMATION, INCLUDING CANADA SHIPPING RATES (SEED ONLY), PLEASE SEE 'SHIPPING' AT THE FOOTER OF THIS WEBSITE.

iDetails

Seeds/Packet
150
Seeds/Ounce
6,000
Germination Code
A
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Wet, Medium-Wet
Height
up to 15 feet
Bloom Time
June, July, August
Bloom Color
White
Advantages
 * 
USDA Zones
4-9
Plant Spacing
3-4'
Catalog Number
CEP02T