Aesculus pavia, or Red Buckeye, is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to Missouri to Southern Illinois, extending as far east as North Carolina and as far south as Texas. In nature, the plants may reach 12 feet (>3 m) in height with a spread of 6-8 feet (1.5-2 m). The palmately compound dark green leaves have 5-7 leaflets and are oblong, lanceolate, and narrowly elliptic. Bark is grayish brown. We grow these for the outstanding terminal buds, which we use in our Intro Botany classes. Even though plants are hardy in Oklahoma, we grow our plants in containers and they do very well. The plants are hardy in USDA zones 5-9.
Blooming: In spring, the plants are covered with red to yellow flowers on 10 inch (25 cm) tall panicles. They are very showy when in flower.
Culture: Aesculus pavia need full sun to partial shade, with a rich well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. To this mix, we add 14-14-14 Osmocote slow release fertilizer at a rate of 1 cup to each 0.01 cu. yards of soil mix. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. During the growing season, we supplement plants with a balanced fertilizer once a month. Since we harvest the terminal buds in the winter, the plants are kept in the cold room with temperatures about 48°F (9°C). During this period, plants are watered only enough to keep the buds from shriveling. Plants are repotted every other year.
Propagation: Aesculus pavia are propagated from seed. Although the seed have no dormancy period, cold stratification for at least one month is recommended.
Aesculus pavia was featured as Plant of the Week March 10-16, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.