What is a Bottlebrush Buckeye?

O. Parker

Bottlebrush buckeye is a slow-growing, perennial shrub native to the southeast and southern regions of the United States. The white flowers are from 6 inches to 12 inches (about 15 cm to 30 cm) long and grow in the shape of a bottlebrush, earning this plant its common name. The scientific name is Aesculus parviflora, and it is a part of the Hippocastanaceae family. Bottlebrush buckeye blooms in the summer in a profusion of white flowers set against a backdrop of glossy, green leaves that turn yellow in the winter. A versatile plant in the landscape, bottlebrush thrives in a range of growing conditions.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

A mature height of 8 feet to 12 feet (about 2.5 m to 3.5 m) with a spread of 8 feet to 15 feet (about 2.5 m to 4.5 m) makes the bottlebrush buckeye ideal as a visual screen, a wind block, and a physical barrier. The plant spreads laterally from running suckers. When planting bottlebrush buckeye as a screen, a spacing of at least 3 feet to 5 feet (about 1 m to 1.5 m) should be left between each shrub. As the plants mature, the shrubs will grow together, forming a dense thicket.

Tolerant of full shade, partial shade, and full sun, the bottlebrush buckeye can answer a variety of needs in a garden or landscape setting. Planted under a shade tree or a small stand of trees, the white flowers in the summer and yellow foliage in the fall and winter add a point of color in a dark area. As an individual shrub, the bottlebrush buckeye creates a visually attractive focal point in both summer and winter. The laterally spreading suckers and naturally spreading tendencies of the bottlebrush buckeye makes this shrub a good solution for erosion control in disturbed lands or on hillsides.

The bottlebrush buckeye grows in a naturally rounded, neat shape, without pruning or with only light pruning to remove dead wood. Ideally, this plant should not be pruned; allow it instead to develop its natural shape. Though it is tolerant of heavy pruning when necessary, this shrub will perform best when planted in an area where it has room to spread and fill out without pruning.

Ideal soil conditions for the bottlebrush buckeye are moist and well-draining with high organic matter. A slightly acidic pH balance is preferred, and salty soil is not tolerated well. The bottlebrush buckeye can withstand both periods of mild flooding and drought. It is attractive to hummingbirds and to beneficial, pollinating insects. Few diseases or pests bother this shrub.

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