Young leaves and red stems of Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye)
Flower buds of Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye) grown in a 3-gallon pot.
Red flowers and green foliage of a mature Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye)

Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye)

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Aesculus pavia, commonly called red buckeye or occasionally firecracker plant, is a large shrub or small understory tree native to the American southeast, known for its vivid red tubular flowers which attract large numbers of butterflies and hummingbirds. Best grown in slightly acidic, moist, fertile soil in part-shade, red buckeye typically grows 10-20' tall and about as wide. Red buckeye makes for a unique specimen tree or naturalized understory planting, and though Aesculus pavia prefers medium-moist soil, it can tolerate occasionally wetter conditions, which makes it a great addition for part-shade rain gardens, as well as screens or hedges in wetter shaded areas.

In early to mid spring, red buckeyes begin producing tall, candle or firecracker-like spikes of bright scarlet red flowers, each of which is tubular and can be up to an inch and a half long. These bright red blooms are especially attractive to hummingbirds, as the shape makes it easy for their long beaks and tongue to access nectar, as well as a variety of butterflies and moths which also host on the plant, including the big and beautiful Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) and Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus).

Note: Although it's a very popular choice for pollinators, care should be taken with planting location of Aesculus pavia, as plant parts and seeds are toxic to humans and other mammals.

Straight Species and Native to U.S.
Mature Tree Height: Small: under 15 feet
Part Shade/Sun (4-6 hours of sun)
Soil Moisture: Medium to Wet and Well-drained
Soil Type: Acidic and Wide Tolerance
Bloom Time: Spring
Flower Color: Red
Foliage Color: Green
Features: Attracts Birds, Attracts Hummingbirds, Attracts Butterflies, and Attracts Pollinators
Tolerances: Clay Soil Tolerant, Deer Tolerant, Rabbit Tolerant, Wet Soil Tolerant, and Shade Tolerant
Garden Type: Rain Garden, Woodland Garden, Specimen Tree, Small Space, and Border/Screen

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