Thursday, June 25, 2009


Cephalanthus occidentalis, Buttonbush is a butterfly and honey bee magnet. A native, this plant thrives in full to partial sun, zones 4- 10. A wonderful tall shrub for riparian and wetland environments. It gets to be about 10- 15 feet tall and is deciduous. This specimen is in the York County Learning Garden in our Wildlife Area. There is a dry stream bed that during rains fills very quickly, the Buttonbush is next to it. As you can see butterflies love these Sputnik shaped flowers. Truly a bonus in any garden!

Next we have the Chaste Tree or Vitex agnus-castus.

Those of you who read other blogs may have seen this posted on Racquel's posting from the other day. This one is also in the Learning Garden, also in the Wildlife Area. Another deciduous tree --this tree's blooms attract bumblebees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It will get up to about 15 feet tall, careful pruning will lend itself to a wonderful structured tree. This tree needs full sun for the blooms to really shine.

If you don't want a woody shrub or small tree but want to draw the birds and butterflies into your yard, this perennial might be your cup of tea. Common name is Green Coneflower or Rudbeckia laciniata. It too is a native.

The Goldfinches as well as other seed eating birds love this flower. This is a herbaceous perennial and leaves only a basal set of foliage in the winter. I have this growing outside my family room window looking through it to the water. It is apparently not bothered by the brackish water when we have high tides. It likes full to partial sun. As with many of my flowers in my garden, I leave the spent seedheads on the stems for the birds to enjoy.
The only caution I give you is that this coneflower gets tall....
really tall....

See the pinkish circle at the top? That is the bloom-- so from inside it is right at eye level. This can get up to 12 feet tall. OH do the finches love this!!!!



  1. Hi Janet, all lovely and good plants but I got all hot and bothered upon seeing the wild and crazy Rudbeckia lanciniata I have never seen it showcased before and only learned its true identity last year from Christopher. I will vouch for the twelve feet tall too, and that the finches adore it. Ours is not blooming yet. A good companion for it and another butterfly magnet is the tall Joe Pye weed.

  2. Janet,
    I agree that Buttonbush is a great butterfly plant. One butterfly count in Eastern North Carolina (Pettigrew) has miles of ditches full of buttonbush, we sometimes see nearly 600-800 Zebra Swallowtails in one day there, impressive!! Joe-pye-weed is another good plant too.

  3. Hi Janet! I just love the blooms on the first picture. If I was a butterfly I'd be all around them!

  4. My gosh, 12 feet tall?! I thought my BESs were tall at 4 feet!! Neat picture!

    I've never seen a buttonbush but it sure is cool-looking, like fireworks.

  5. I love Buttonbush! When we go kayaking in the creeks that feed Jordan Lake, we see it growing in the water all along the edges.

    Vitex is going great here, too. I raised one seedling from the mother tree last year and now it has been transplanted to the meadow. Free trees. Good!

    I don't know that rudbeckia/green coneflower, but it sure is pretty. I wish I had a wall where I could plant them. I think they'd blow over out in my gardens along the meadow edge.


  6. Good evening Frances, all hot and bothered by the Rudbeckia laciniata? It is a plant that you either love or hate. I have taken Roundup to it on occasion....takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. From our family room we are eye to eye with the birds. Hard to pass that up.
    Randy, Funny that both you and Frances mentioned Joe Pye Weed. The drawback for me is that it isn't salt tolerant. Used to have some. The Buttonbush is really a fun shrub.
    Tatyana, The whole bush was a buzz with either butterflies or bees! What a show!
    Ginger, I know, 12 feet is really big! Mine are about 8- 10 right now. Guess you could pinch them back a little. I like the Buttonbush being a native too.
    When the Buttonbush is in bloom it really stands out! Vitex is a nice addition to the summer blooming trees (crape myrtles) and the blue is great. You can grow the Rudbeckia out in the open, it is in the LG as well, without a wall or fence behind it. They stand tall and easily sway in the wind...the LG ones are along the roadway with 45 mph traffic.

  7. I like how unusual it is. I'll look for it or maybe some seeds will make it to NC;)

  8. Love the buttonbush, but I am also excited about that coneflower. It is really pretty and a native too? A good thing. It's great it is at the right level for your viewing. The vitex here are also in full bloom. I noticed my beach vitex is blooming as well. It has such a lovely bloom. No, I never did pull it but am closely watching it. If it turns into kudzu or ivy-out it goes! Thanks again for identifying it for me.

  9. Good morning Anna, which plant are you asking about? Let me know and I can see what I can do.

    Good morning Tina, yes the coneflower is a native. Maybe your beach vitex will not be invasive in your area. I had forgotten about IDing it.

  10. The buttonbush speaks to me. I want one of each. H.

  11. That button bush is beautiful ~ I can see why butterflies & bees like it. I am not familiar with Rudbeckia laciniata ~ but I would love to have it in my garden. I know just the place that it wouldn't matter how tall it got. The pairing Frances suggested sounds great too. Thanks for introducing these to us. Have a great weekend too!

  12. I've never heard of Buttonbush, the blooms are interesting. Does it prefer an area that might benefit from some extra moisture? Most of my shade is dry unfortunately. The vitex in the LG has a nice shape too. I'm definitely putting one or two of them in my front yard this fall. They are fab! Oh & thanks for the link love. :)

  13. You must have the perfect conditions for the R laciniata...mine isn't this straight and tall...yet! I saw a Button Bush at the garden center and really would have liked to invite him home...but, I don't have a wetland! Sigh, It's all lovely Janet. gail

  14. Hi Helen, that Buttonbush is really something when it is in bloom. I want one too!
    Kathleen, Hi, the Rudbeckia laciniata can be aggresive in some environments, mine is between the house and a brick walkway, so it means more to share with friends. Pairing it wiht a Joe Pye Weed would be nice. You have a great weekend too!
    Hi, Yes, the Buttonbush needs a little more moisture...doesn't do well with drought conditions. I think you will really like the Vitex. you are welcome for the link.
    Gail, hello...wonder why your R. laciniata isn't growing tall? Full sun? Maybe the more mature the root structure the larger it gets.?.?.? Maybe? The Buttonbush just need to not dry it doesn't HAVE to have wetland area. thanks for visiting.

  15. OK, add one more to the mix. I've never seen button bush either, but it is way cool!

  16. Hi Lauren, glad you like it!! It is a alien spaceship looking cluster of blooms isn't it?

  17. Love the cone flower and will try some Joe Pye to see how it grows here in the midwest.

  18. Buttonbush grows wild by the creek and sloughs on our property. I need to propagate some of it and put it in the wet places near the garden. More butterfly and bee magnets are always a good thing!

  19. Hi Stella, I really like the idea of mixing the Joe Pye Weed with the R. laciniata.
    Sweet Bay, how lucky to have some buttonbush growing wild close by!! Hope it propagates easily.

  20. Funny you should call the buttonbush Sputnik shaped. Did you know there was a variety actually called 'Sputnik'?

  21. wow Quercus, I didn't know that, will have to check it out. Makes sense to have one called Sputnik.

  22. Judging from the other comments Heirloom, you are not alone.


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