Ping Pong™ Buttonbush

Cephalanthus ‘Select A Dark Green’

Description & Overview

A Johnson’s Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Ping Pong™ Buttonbush has an pright growing habit and rich, glossy, dark green leaves. Perfectly globular, creamy white inflorescences, similar to small ping pong balls. Wetland shrub that can tolerate periodic flooding. Ping Pong™ Buttonbush originated at Johnson’s Nursery in 2004 from a seedling selection made by Mike Yanny from a crop of open pollinated Cephalanthus occidentalis.

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: Regional Ecotype Nativar
Mature Height: 8 feet
Mature Spread: 8 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate
Growth Form: Upright, becoming rounded with age
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Site Requirements: Adaptable to any soil except dry
Flower: Creamy white, globular, fragrant
Bloom Period: July
Foliage: Glossy Dark Green
Fall Color: Insignificant, mottled brown with hints of yellow and orange
Fruit Notes: Globular seed head, ornamental

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Suggested Uses:

Ping Pong Buttonbush is a versatile shrub for any space with wet soil. Use it for rain gardens, wet areas, low screening, and to attract pollinators.

Wildlife Value:

Ping Pong Buttonbush is valuable to wildlife through many seasons. The flowers are an excellent nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Shorebirds, ducks, and other water birds consume the seeds, and wood ducks will use the plant as cover when nesting. In Wisconsin, the plant hosts caterpillars of the Titan Sphinx Moth (Allepos titan). In warmer climates to the south and east, the Hydrangea Sphinx Moth (Darapsa versicolor) also uses the plant as a caterpillar host.

Maintenance Tips:

If the Ping Pong Buttonbush becomes too tall for its space, the tallest stems can be removed via thinning cuts in the fall. Otherwise it can be left to grow naturally in its space.


Ping Pong Buttonbush has no serious insect or disease problems. Minor insect browsing of the leaves just means the plant is fulfilling its role in the local ecosystem!

Leaf Lore:

The genus name of Buttonbush, Cephalanthus, comes from the Greek words cephalo and anthos, meaning ‘head flower’. The native Buttonbush ranges from West Texas and the Florida Everglades north to Minnesota and Nova Scotia.

Companion Plants:

Combine Ping Pong Buttonbush with other native wet-site plants like Spotted Joe-Pye Weed, Black Chokeberry, Red Milkweed, and Shreve’s Iris.