Buttonbush Growing Guide

Cephalanthus occidentalis


Crop Rotation Group



Rich, moist soil in low spots, rain gardens, or along the edges of a pond.


Full sun to part shade.

Frost tolerant

Yes, buttonbush is winter hardy woody shrub, tolerating cold to -15°F (-26°C).


None generally needed.


Single Plants: 6' 6" (2.00m) each way (minimum)
Rows: 6' 6" (2.00m) with 6' 6" (2.00m) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Buttonbush can be started from seeds sown outdoors in fall, immediately after the round brown seed pods are collected from plants. Successful seedlings will appear in late spring. Or, purchase a plant from a native plant nursery, and set it out from spring to early summer. Another option is to take cuttings from an existing plant in spring, soon after new growth appears, and root the cuttings directly in moist ground where you want the plants to grow.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Native to wetlands in much of North America, buttonbush often becomes beautifully gnarled as it matures into a statuesque shrub. It is often included in rain garden plantings because of its tolerance of standing water. The round, pincushion flowers appear over a long period, and they are popular among bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Round seed pods persist well into winter.


Prune lightly to shape plants and remove damaged wood, but let plants define their own shape as they age.


Pests and diseases are uncommon with buttonbush. The plants are poisonous to most animals, including humans.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Buttonbush