SUGAR SHACK® Cephalanthus awarded PHS Gold Medal

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has included Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Sugar Shack® buttonbush (Cephalanthus) in its 2024 list of Gold Medal Plants.

Sugar Shack® buttonbush is one of six plants awarded the 2024 PHS Gold Medal award. Plants are selected for the program based on hardiness, ease of growing, weather tolerance, and pest resistance. According to the PHS website, the award “recognizes exceptional perennials and pollinator-friendly plants as judged by a committee of PHS horticulturists, expert gardeners, nursery owners, and more.”

An excellent native plant for wet, even boggy sites, this cultivar carries the distinctive round, white fragrant flowers indicative of Cephalanthus, but it differs from conventional buttonbush in that after the flowers are spent, it has showy red fruit rather than the typical green. Sugar Shack® buttonbush also boasts a useful, compact habit - about half the size of the straight species at just 4-5’ tall and wide. It has green glossy foliage that turns red and burgundy in the fall and is hardy in USDA zone 4-10.

Sugar Shack® Cephalanthus joins Bobo® and ‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangeas as PHS Gold Medal Award-winning shrubs. All are Proven Winners® ColorChoice® varieties, introduced by Spring Meadow Nursery.

Tim Wood, breeder and product development manager at Spring Meadow Nursery, remarked, “Developing this plant was a long process, and this native shrub deserves greater use, so I’m very pleased more people will get to know it.” An exceptional shrub for pollinators, he added, “It attracts skippers, monarchs, and many other butterflies.”

A longtime admirer of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the work they do, Wood found this endorsement of Sugar Shack® buttonbush to be very meaningful, saying, “I think I can speak for everyone at Spring Meadow when I say how proud we are when the PHS recognizes one of our cultivars with this important award.”

More information about the PHS Gold Medal Award can be found here.