Bottlebrush Buckeye

How To Grow A Bottlebrush Buckeye

The bottlebrush buckeye is a lovely multi-stemmed shrub that is characterized by its many slender stems that stand erect and spread out irregularly.  These shrubs often use underground runners to form extensive colonies, especially when they are planted in shady areas and they can mature at a very large size which makes them perfect for privacy.




These massive shrubs can easily grow to be 12 feet tall and an impressive 15 feet across.  The twigs are a vibrant green shade, each housing five to seven leaflets that are often six to eight inches long.  In the spring, they display an eye-catching shimmering bronze color and then they mature to a gray underside with green on top.  Before they drop their leaves in the fall, they turn to a shade of pale yellow.

The stunning flowers are what the bottlebrush buckeye is known for.  In midsummer, cone-shaped, white panicles are produced that can be up to an astonishing one foot long.  Directly below the petals, the stamen extends out completely which causes the flower to look like a brush that is used for cleaning bottles.

The fruit of the shrub is brown and pear-shaped, typically one to three inches in size and they have a pale tan scar present that makes them look like a buckeye.


While this shrub is native to Georgia and Alabama, it can do quite well anywhere in zones four through eight.  Keep in mind that they prefer partial shade but when grown in northern areas, full sun is acceptable.

  1. Select your planting site.  Be sure that it has loamy, moist, acidic soil and offer the plant adequate room to spread.  When choosing the location, keep in mind just how massive these shrubs can become.
  1. Prepare the soil by adding about four inches of some type of organic compost to provide nutrients.  Include a 5-10-5 fertilizer and work it deep into the soil.
  1. Dig the hole for your bottlebrush buckeye about three times the root ball's width but not any deeper.
  1. Position the root ball into the hole and as you back fill the soil, you will want to continuously water it to eliminate the chance of air holes and gaps forming.  The goal is to make sure that the soil is firm.
  1. Apply approximately three inches or so of mulch to help protect the roots and conserve water.
  1. During the growing period, you will want to water your bottlebrush buckeye regularly and very deeply.
  1. A very light application of slow-release fertilizer should be fed to the shrub once or twice during the growing season and then again in later winter.
  1. After the shrub blooms, you can prune it lightly for control and then in the winter it can be pruned right to the ground and it will grow back quite vigorously in the spring.

Tips And Warnings

Since the bottlebrush buckeye has such an enormous width, it is ideal for a corner setting or used as a backdrop for a garden.  They can also do quite well under large shade trees and are not considered invasive so they will not harm the tree's root system.

It is extremely important to note that the seeds and leaves of the bottlebrush buckeye are extremely poisonous and if they are ingested by livestock, pets or people, they could cause fatality quite quickly.

The bottlebrush buckeye is often difficult to find in local nurseries so you may have to order one depending on where you live.  Although they are challenging to get a hold of, their display of beauty makes them well worth the effort.