Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 24, 2015

From: Monrovia, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Growing Buttonbush in California
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

For the Buttonbush, how do you keep it consistently moist?

ANSWER:

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a wonderful native shrub with a unique cluster of flowers in a ball shape. Here's some of what we have online in the Native Plant Database ...

Common buttonbush is a multi-stemmed shrub which grows 6-12 ft. or occasionally taller. Leaves in pairs or in threes, petiolate; blade up to 8 inches long, ovate to narrower, sometimes 1/3 or less as wide as long, with a pointed tip and rounded to tapered base, smooth margins and glossy upper surface, lower surface duller. Glossy, dark-green leaves lack significant fall color. Flowers small, borne in distinctive, dense, spherical clusters (heads) with a fringe of pistils protruded beyond the white corollas. Long-lasting, unusual blossoms are white or pale-pink, one-inch globes. Subsequent rounded masses of nutlets persist through the winter. Trunks are often twisted. Spreading, much-branched shrub or sometimes small tree with many branches (often crooked and leaning), irregular crown, balls of white flowers resembling pincushions, and buttonlike balls of fruit. Buttonbush is a handsome ornamental suited to wet soils and is also a honey plant. Ducks and other water birds and shorebirds consume the seeds.

In a native habitat, buttonbush grows along the edge of ponds and streams where the soil is consistently moist. It is possible to sucessfully grow buttonbush in a home garden without a pond or stream by planting it in a low area that collects water runoff, plant it in a rain garden, install underground drip irrigation and in all cases use mulch to conserve moisture.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

More Shrubs Questions

Small Yard Tree for Washington DC
July 20, 2012 - What do you suggest for a tree or shrub in my front yard? The yard is small; 9 ft x 12 ft. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Propagating Bauhinia lunarioides
November 28, 2015 - For a Master Gardener Intern project I am attempting to propagate the native orchid tree/Anacacho, Bauhinia lunarioides via root, cuttings, and seed. I have scarified the seeds - how long should it ta...
view the full question and answer

Cottage-style landscaping for Chesapeake VA
August 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plant staff, I recently moved into a cottage style home that has a poured concrete/paver patio. I am trying to come up with ideas for plantings that would 1. give me a bit of privacy,...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing privacy shrub for Northern California home
January 22, 2014 - We have purchased a home in Anderson CA. We want a privacy shrub along the roadside of our home to reduce noise. 60'x 25' of full sun with rocky soil and many Oak trees.We want something that will ...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on yaupon holly turning brown/black
July 20, 2011 - Arlington TX Yaupon Holly has leaves on stems closer to the bottom of the plant and moving up that are turning brown/black. Is this a disease, over/under watering? There is black gummy soil, but it ha...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.