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PlantFiles: Red Buckeye, Firecracker Plant
Aesculus pavia

Family: Sapindaceae (sap-in-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Aesculus (ES-kew-lus) (Info)
Species: pavia (PAH-vee-uh) (Info)

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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By frostweed
Thumbnail #1 of Aesculus pavia by frostweed

By Jeff_Beck
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Thumbnail #7 of Aesculus pavia by Jeff_Beck

There are a total of 47 photos.
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15 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive poorgeorge On Jun 9, 2011, poorgeorge from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Alot of good information here, but I didn't see anyone talk about one of the reasons I grow the red buckeye. It is that the buckeyes are lucky. I always carry one or two in my pocket and I have always had lots of good luck. And that's no joke. Try it.

Positive corgimom On Jan 27, 2011, corgimom from Pontotoc, MS (Zone 7b) wrote:

Buckeyes greet us each spring with their red blooms . They are easy to grow from seeds here. I just drop them where I want them in late fall and let nature take its course. They do not like to have their roots disturbed so put them where you want to leave them.

Positive vossner On Apr 24, 2009, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I got some seeds from a lovely DGer which germinated in about 2 months. Some of my seedlings are potted and some have been transplanted and will become understory trees. I am happy to have these because they are great hummer attractors.

Neutral podster On Apr 24, 2009, podster from Deep East Texas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This pretty plant grows throughout our east TX woods. I have admired them in many yards with their cheerful springtime blooms and decided to dig one up and place it in a shady area near the house.

Above, I have posted a photo of what I dug up. Amazingly, it did not seemed to wilt this plant. The blooms had been beaten off by a recent rain.

I was excited to read that this is the first of the bloomers to draw the hummingbirds. Bring them on!!!

Positive airam On May 28, 2008, airam from Sandy, TX wrote:

I had seen red buckeye shrubs growing in the wild along a walking path. They were in full bloom at the time. I went back today to collect seeds. I could not find any on the ground but was able to harvest about a dozen from the plants. Should I have waited? The seeds are not open and I read that you should let them "mature " on the plant before taking them. Any info would be appreciated. What should I do with them at this point?

Positive JaxFlaGardener On Mar 4, 2008, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I only recently became familiar with the Red Buckeye as a result of my horticulture job with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. There are several of the Red Buckeye trees growing in the native plant "Wild Florida" exhibit area. They are currently reaching their peak of bloom (March 3).

I gathered about 20 seeds from one of the trees at the zoo and am getting a few of them to germinate (expect more may germinate later). Most on-line sources I found suggested that the seeds needed to be cold-stratified (placed in a baggie of soil in the refrigerator for a few months). I was therefore surprised when I noticed a lot of seedlings around the parent tree. Our winters here are typically mild with only a few nights per year slightly below freezing. A coworker who has had a lot of experience in growing trees told me that cold-stratification is really only necessary if you want to store the seeds. It is best, as mentioned above, to gather them when they are fresh and plant them immediately.

I was able to transplant some of the seedlings from the parent plant. I put one in my garden and potted up others, most of which I plan to disperse at an upcoming DG Florida roundup. As mentioned above, most of the initial growth spurt is focused on creating a very long tap root. I had to dig down about 8 inches in order to not sever the tap root, even though the leaves on the plant were not much more than about 4 inches high. It may be best to just lay the seeds on top of the soil and not cover them much at all. I noticed that the seeds that had germinated and grown around the parent plant were mostly seeds barely covered, with most of the seed exposed above the soil line.


Positive amscram On Feb 20, 2008, amscram from Baton Rouge, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Here in South Louisiana, this is always the first deciduous shrub to leaf out (usually buds out in late January) but it is also the first to lose its leaves in the early fall. Still, it is quite attractive and is scaled well for smaller gardens.

Positive passiflora_pink On Apr 19, 2007, passiflora_pink from Shelby County, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Blooms when small. Attracts hummingbirds. A tough native tree for early spring color and wildlife value.

Positive ViburnumValley On Apr 15, 2007, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Red buckeye is an excellent plant for all the reasons mentioned above. The wonderful numerous red flowers early in the season; attractive to hummingbirds and insects; tolerant of a wide range of soils; not too big for most landscapes; all these are worth enough to use this plant more.

It doesn't have great fall color, and in fact tends to lose its leaves relatively early due to some foliar diseases in central KY heat and humidity. Use it toward the back of a mixed border planting rather than front and center as a specimen, and it won't let you down.

It has been pretty easy to germinate from seed. Key is to sow immediately and don't let the seed dessicate. Most buckeye seed needs to be treated this way for success. It will send out a root radicle in fall, and then new top growth occurs in spring. Flowering in second year is common.

Neutral barefootannie On May 22, 2006, barefootannie from Fort McCoy, FL wrote:

I am in Zone 9a , Ocala National doesn't Like The hot summer heat here ,But it's Been Hanging on for several years now! Definitely needs afternoon shade.

Positive wxmandan On Apr 17, 2006, wxmandan from Cato, AR (Zone 7b) wrote:

Red Buckeye grows wild and somewhat prolific in the forest understory here in central Arkansas and puts on a nice show of red flowers in April.

On my rural property they are thriving quite well in light to somewhat heavy shade, and seem to tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, from rocky hillsides to wet (but not swampy) lowlands.

Positive penpen On Mar 10, 2006, penpen from North Tonawanda, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Even though this plant grows well in my area, it is virtually impossible to find locally. After trying to find one locally for 5 years I gave up and I finally ordered online as bare root plants. Since I ordered them during a very cold period and our ground was still frozen when they arrived I potted them up and they started to bud out within a week. I am looking forward to seeing them bloom for the first time. Very good plant for early spring blooms and for our hummingbirds.

Positive TREEHUGR On Jan 6, 2005, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Red Buckeye is a Florida native understory plant found in mostly the northern two thirds of the state. Makes for a nice flowering shrub and attracts hummingbirds.

Positive frostweed On Apr 29, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

The red buckeye tree is not easy to find, I had wanted one for a long time but could not locate one and one day I went to the nursery and there it was, waiting for me. I took it home 4 years ago and it is now 10 feet tall
and in bloom. I love this tree because it is one of the very few with red flowers and I love red. I am trying to propagate by seed but they are very hard. I have found that if I bury the seed half way and lay it on its side it sprouts a lot better. Wish me luck.

Positive Tiarella On Mar 19, 2004, Tiarella from Tunnel Hill, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very easy to grow from seed. Collect the buckeyes as the casings are breaking open or gather from the ground and plant while they are FRESH. Plant in well drained soil with about an inch of soil over the buckeye. You'll have a new shoot in the spring. This tree (or shrub) has a really deep tap root, so plant the seed where you want the tree or plant it out after one year in a pot.

I purchased my first one from a native plant sale when it was about the height of my index finger. It grows quite quickly into a lovely small tree and is usually the first flower for the hummingbirds - blooming in March in zone 7.

Positive poorgeorge On Apr 6, 2003, poorgeorge from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is a very easy plant to grow. I'm in Rock Hill, SC and I brought my plant from Ga. about 5 yrs. ago. It was 1 ft and now it's 6 ft. An airy shrub that I grow for the flowers, foliage and especially the buckeyes, that when carried with you will bring good luck!

Positive woodland9 On Mar 13, 2003, woodland9 wrote:

A lovely plant, very early to bud out in spring. Attractive to Hummingbirds. Can be grown as a beautiful ornamental shrub in landscapes in full sun, but will grow equally well as an understory plant in the woods. Often found near streams.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grow in average, medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, fertile soils. Can be grown from seed, and may flower as early as the second or third year.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama
Cullman, Alabama
Daleville, Alabama
Pelham, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Huntington, Arkansas
Malvern, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Sherwood, Arkansas
Gainesville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Miccosukee Cpo, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Danielsville, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia (2 reports)
Tunnel Hill, Georgia
Wheaton, Illinois
Benton, Kentucky
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky (2 reports)
Nicholasville, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
Denham Springs, Louisiana (2 reports)
Greenwood, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Plain Dealing, Louisiana
Pembroke, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Carriere, Mississippi
Madison, Mississippi
Pontotoc, Mississippi
Piedmont, Missouri
Brooklyn, New York
Croton On Hudson, New York
North Tonawanda, New York
Burlington, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Morehead City, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio (2 reports)
Marietta, Ohio
Williamsburg, Ohio
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Dickson, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Belton, Texas
Crockett, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Spring Branch, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Lexington, Virginia
Staunton, Virginia

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