June: Bottlebrush Buckeye

With our company under the ownership of two Ohio State grads, it was only a matter of time before I ended up featuring a plant from the buckeye family. While I'm a Purdue grad myself, I have to admit that this is one amazing shrub. If you're looking for something that can take some shade, fill space pretty quickly, screen unsightly views, and show some nice flowers, bottlebrush buckeye is one of your best options.

Bottlebrush buckeye is an impressive understory shrub native to the eastern U.S. Its natural range doesn't extend into Indiana, but it can still be quite happy here, and it is just as beloved by our native pollinators. As a member of the buckeye and horse chestnut family, it has interesting five-part compound leaves and produces buckeyes in the fall. The second part of the scientific name, Aesculus parviflora, means "little flower", which seems very misleading given that the flower spikes can stretch over a foot long. But when we talk about plants that cluster a lot of tiny blooms together, we call each separate blossom a flower, and the whole thing an inflorescence. The flower on bottlebrush buckeye are decent sized, but they are smaller and more dainty than the flowers you find on the inflorescences of other species in the family.

Image by Maria Gulley

Image by Maria Gulley

Common Name: Bottlebrush Buckeye

Scientific Name: Aesculus parviflora

Notable Varieties: 'Rogers' (larger overall size, larger flowers that tend to droop)

Light: partial sun to full shade (full sun is okay if it gets plenty of water)

Size: 8-12' tall, 8-15' wide

Soil: prefers well-drained soil, but can tolerate some clay; requires consistent moisture

Blooms: impressive spike of white or soft pink flowers in late June into July

Other Notes: deer and rabbit resistant; attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds; good pick for rain gardens; does not tolerate shearing well, so plan for a lot of space; low maintenance

See other plants of the month.

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