Cephalanthus occidentalis L.

Family: Rubiaceae (gardenia)

  • Bloom Period:
    • Mid-Season,
  • Growth Cycle:
    • Perennial,
  • Growth Habit:
    • Shrub,
    • Tree,
  • Insect Type Attracted:
    • Natural Enemy,
    • Pollinator,
  • Light:
    • Full,
    • Partial,
  • Region:
    • Northern Lower Peninsula,
    • Southern Lower Peninsula,
    • Upper Peninsula,
  • Soil Moisture:
    • Medium,
    • Wet
  • Height:
    • 4ft in field plantings, 6-15ft at maturity

Natural enemies attracted

Moderately attractive: Chalcidoidea, Empididae, and Orius insidiosus.

Mildly attractive: Thomisida

Pollinators attracted

Mildly attractive: bees including sweat bees, digger bees, and bumble bees.

Pests attracted

Moderately attractive: lygus bugs.

Mildly attractive: leafhoppers, thrips, Japanese beetles, aphids and leaf beetles.

Plant notes

Flowers are round, white balls about 2 inches across. This shrub reached 4 ft tall in field plantings, but grows 6-15 ft tall at maturity. Plants bloomed the latter half of July. This species was the ninth most attractive to natural enemies in mid-season, with similar numbers of natural enemies as in the grass control.


Buttonbush grows in full to partial sun, and average moisture to very wet soils. It is naturally occurring in wet areas such as river margins, marsh edges, shores, wet thickets, and hardwood swamps and is often found growing in water or deep muck.

Cultivation and management

This shrub can be grown from seed to flower in the third or fourth year, or with plug material to flowers in the second or third year. This species is extremely tolerant of wet conditions and will grow in standing water. Although this plant was not extremely attractive to beneficial insects, it is a shrub and as it matures and produces more flowers it may become more attractive.