Saturday, January 1, 2011

Spring is not far away

Being in the nursery business all my 48 years once in a while I run across a plant that defies knowledge even logic. About fifteen years ago I received ten small seedlings of Aesculus pavia the Dwarf Red Buckeye. This little tree was new to me and I did not know what to expect.

Aesculus pavia Dwarf Red Buckeye is native from Illinois and West Virginia south to Florida and west to Texas. It is a small understory tree and under landscape conditions the height ranges from eight to fifteen feet tall. The peculiar nature of this native gem make it one of the most interesting little trees I have ever grown. Dwarf Red Buckeye is the first plant to leaf out in the nursery in the spring. Now this is a scary thought but for some reason the new leaves are not damaged by late frost or cold at all. When exposed to late frost or cold the leaves may tinge red then turn back green and continue on. I have had young plants bloom the second year in gallon pots, and nearly half of my three year old plants in three gallon pots bloom. Now you may think this is not special but when the bloom is bright red and can be up to a foot long and that on a foot tall plant it is a site to behold. When customers see these small plants blooming in the nursery they don not think they are real!

Five different buckeye's are native to the southeast in different locations throughout. Dwarf Red Buckeye is very hardy. Very cold tolerant it can be planted as far north as the Great Lakes. It is very drought tolerant as well. In the drought in North Carolina during 2006-2007 we had plants that we could not water. They defoliated but once water returned they put forth new leaves, all survived.

Blooming bright red in spring with tubular shaped flowers makes this little tree an excellent nectar source for early season Hummingbirds and other pollinators. This is a must addition to any Hummingbird and Butterfly garden. The only drawback of this plant is with an early spring start brings an early fall exit. The species seldom has good fall color unless it is subject to a very wet late summer. Easy to care for, beautiful red spring blooms. The seed is the good luck charm I carry with me in my pocket wherever I go. Dwarf Red Buckeye is a must for the native plant lover


  1. Kevin,

    Isn't Red or is it Painted Buckeye that the hummingbirds use during their return trip from migration?

  2. Both actually Randy and in certain areas the two species overlap. I hope to try Painted Buckeye soon,although the blooms are not as showy but color is much more variable.

  3. Hey Kevin, I love this dwarf Buckeye...would love to add one to my garden.

    Speaking of adding, I added your blog to my blog roll at Gardening With Confidence™ as well as the blogroll for www.TarheelGardening,com/wordpress Are you a member of NCNLA? If so, I have another place to list you. Thanks. H.

  4. Nice. One of my favorites. I had one fail on me here, but I'm sure to give it another go!

  5. Will the dwarf red buckeye grow well in Toronto Ontario Canada???

  6. Dwarf Red Buckeye has been successfully grown in the United States up to the Great Lakes region. I have no knowledge of the Toronto area particularly. Check with some local garden clubs ir local landscapers to srr if anyone hss tried.