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Wilcox Nursery Guide: How To Plant Silver Buttonwood

by | Sep 28, 2018 | Native Plants

Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus

The silver buttonwood tree is a member of the Combretaceae family and is considered a great addition for Florida coastal gardens because of its unusual silvery-gray color leaves, appealing growth habit and shapely trunk. Silver buttonwood makes for a striking hedge shrub, accent or small tree that contrasts beautifully with the green landscape. These plants stand out when planted in combination with red, blue, purple and white flowering plants.

Silver Buttonwood Plant specs

Habitat(s)- Beach Dune; Mangrove; Coastal; Marl Prairie

The Buttonwood tree is native to tropical America and the West Indies, coastal south and central Florida. They flourish best in Zone 10 and 11 as they are not adapted to cold winter temps and frost of Zone 9.

Since the Buttonwood often grows along shorelines, it is highly salt-resistant and can grow in tough conditions. The Silver Buttonwood also does well in sand and alkaline soils that are periodically inundated with freshwater or brackish water to moderately well-drained soils

They are moderate to fast growers that prefer full to part sun. They can be planted even in part shade, too, but won’t grow to be as full or get as colorful foliage.

When used as a hedge, Silver Buttonwood can grow to about 10 feet but can be trimmed down to about 5 to 6 feet. The plant grows in the shape of a vase, and is wider at the top and often somewhat bare at the bottom. In cultivation as a small tree, it can reach a mature size of 20 feet unless trimmed.

In the late summer to early fall the small button-like flowers on long panicles sets into button like fruit that then hardens into a reddish-brown woody seed cones. When fully ripe, the capsules burst, dispersing the seeds.

Silver Buttonwood is an important host for epiphytes in South Florida. They can be used as wind breaks in landscape and also to provide light shade. They give good cover and food for wildlife.

Silver Buttonwood Plant Care

Buttonwood will grow in a large container but at some point it’ll outgrow the pot and need to be planted in the ground.

To successfully grow Silver Buttonwood in the landscape in Zones 10, and 11, you should plant early in the season when there is no danger of frost or freeze.

Choose a sunny or partly sunny spot in a tropical to subtropical landscape for your new tree once it is at least a foot tall. Place these shrubs 3 or 4 feet apart and away from the house so that the gutters and eaves are in the clear when the plant reaches a mature height.

Dig a hole for it that is twice as large as the pot it is in and the same depth.  Make sure that the crown of the plant does not get buried in the planting process. Fill the hole in with native soil.

Fix it to a stake while the roots take hold. A little top mulching can also help hold moisture and keep weeds at bay. Prune lightly till the tree achieves the desired form. Avoid hard pruning of more than 1/3 of the plant and only do it in spring – late March or early April.

You should water on a regular basis to keep the tree lush and full. Then watch your Silver Buttonwood tree grow and enjoy the beauty the soft silver green foliage. Get in touch with Wilcox Nursery & Landscape for more gardening tips and ideas on landscape design.

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