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Growing a Burning Bush

Category Shrubs
Burning bush, fall foliage.
Easy to grow and prized for its fall foliage, the burning bush makes a nice addition to your garden. This is a guide about growing a burning bush.
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By 2 found this helpful
March 29, 2011

With its stunning autumn foliage and tolerance for neglect, Burning Bush (Euonymus) makes a wonderful ornamental addition to nearly any yard or garden. Here are some tips for growing and caring for burning bush in your landscape.

Beware of the Giant "Dwarf"

Plants labeled 'dwarf" or "compact" are usually assumed to be smaller versions of the same species. It's no wonder then, that many gardeners end up surprised by the irony associated with the name Euonymus alata "Compactus", a.k.a. "Dwarf Burning Bush". Capable of reaching a mature height and spread of 10 feet by 10 feet, the shrub is not exactly "dwarf" in size. Its namesake, "Dwarf", actually refers to the fact that the corky ridges found on its bark are much smaller and less distinctive than they are on the Euonymus species form. Good information to have before planting a row of them under your picture window.
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Care and Feeding

Winged Burning Bush is easy to care for and considered essentially maintenance-free, at least until they outgrow their space. It is this ability to thrive in less-than-ideal conditions and subsequent tolerance for abuse (and pollution) that makes them such popular choices for the urban landscape.

Burning bush prefer to grow in a sunny spot, and in soil that is moist (not wet) and slightly acidic. Fortunately, they also adapt to partial shade, poor soil, dry soil, and the wrong pH, although each of these elements may adversely affect their fall color display.

Things to consider:

To Prune or Not to Prune?

The answer as to whether or not you should prune your burning bush depends entirely on your individual situation. Healthy growth does not depend on regular pruning, so in most cases, your shrubs will look best if left alone. However, when you need to control their size and shape (and eventually you will), pruning will become necessary.

Options:

Fast Facts

Dwarf-winged Burning Bush (Euonymus alata "Compactus")

Exposure: Sun/partial shade.

Soil: Not super fussy, but does need ample drainage.

Form: Shrub-like; starts with an upright growth habit becoming more rounded with age.

Foliage/bark: 1 to 3-inch long narrow leaves, finely serrated; medium to dark green in summer and turning flaming red (full sun) to pale pink (shade) in the fall. The bark has visible corky ridges on the regular-sized species, but is smaller and less distinctive on the so-named "dwarf" variety.

Flower/fruit: Inconspicuous flowers in late spring/early summer; produces tiny red-orange fruits in the fall that are attractive to wildlife.

Height/spread: Will slowly grow to 8 to 10 feet tall with a spread as wide ("Compactus"); other varieties may be much taller. Euonymus alatus 'Rudy Haag' is shorter - typically reaching 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

Growth rate: Slow to moderate.

Hardiness: Most varieties are hardy to zone 4.

Invasive In Some Areas

Winged burning bush is native to northeastern Asia and was first introduced in North America as an ornamental plant in the 1860s. Although still considered a popular landscaping shrub, it is considered invasive in certain parts of the United States - especially in some Northeast states and New England.

Winged burning bush can invade a variety of disturbed habitats including forest edges, fields, and roadways. Once established, it can form a dense stand that chokes out native vegetation. Before planting burning bush, check the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States to see if it is considered a threat in your area.

http://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/subject.html?sub=3023#maps

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Comment Was this helpful? 2

Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

May 7, 20121 found this helpful

My burning bush has small, completely black bugs, that have not moved yet. I found them on end of new growth, under leaves, and on the stem, in clusters. They are making the leaves roll and turn towards the inside. I have never seen this before. I have not introduced anything new in 3 years.

By Ellen B

Answer Was this helpful? 1

Answers

May 20, 20120 found this helpful

I'm having the same problem. They look like aphids, only black. Lady bugs seem to be eating them, but there's not enough lady bugs to really make a difference. I've been making a spray of 2 Tbsp. dish soap, 2 tbs veg oil in a spray bottle of water. Then blast them with it. On alternate days I just knock them off the plant with the force of the water from the hose. Seems to be helping, but I notice the ends of the plants are dying where they were.

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And I had just gotten these plants looking good after a couple winter's ago when the rabbits completely girdled them.

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May 30, 20170 found this helpful

Do u dilute this formula with the spray bottle attached on your hose?

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By 0 found this helpful
January 31, 2011

I don't know my gardening zone, but I want to know if a burning bush will grow where I live? Sometimes it is very windy. Also where can I buy the plant? Thank you.

By Jayne from Mulege, Baja Sur, Mexico

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 31, 20110 found this helpful

Here is a link to determine your gardening zone. I am not certain if you can grow one in Mexico or not but you can ask at a nursery or find out on one of the nurseries online. Just google nurseries and I am sure you can find out.

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http://www.usna  one/ushzmap.html

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February 2, 20110 found this helpful

I live in Wisconsin, and my bush only turns red in the fall, right before it goes dormant.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 17, 2010

I was wondering if you can get a start off a burning bush, plant it, and it will grow?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Shelly from Patricksburg, IN

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April 17, 20100 found this helpful

Burning Bush Cutting Progress (Euonymus alata)

This fall I took a scraggly looking branch off a little burning bush I had. The botanical name is Euonymous alata. These bushes are green during most of the growing season but turn fiery red in the fall before they lose their leaves. It is for this reason that people plant them. Yesterday I checked the cutting's progress.

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I wasn't really expecting anything so the resistance I felt when I tugged gently at the cutting was surprising. I very pleased when I extracted the cutting and several tiny little roots were revealed. You can see the little roots on the right side of the picture.

Starting the cutting was pretty simple. I found a nice looking section of stem about 5 inches long. I cut it below a node, dipped it in water and applied powdered rooting hormone. When you dip the cutting in water it allows the powder to stick better. Then I put it in a container with sand and made sure to keep the sand moist. I will leave the cutting in the sand for a couple more weeks then pot it up. I'm keeping it in the garage to avoid frost damage on the tender little guy. Good luck.

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May 19, 20100 found this helpful

I'm not sure about the rooting of the burning bush, but a lot of folks don't know that the burning bush drops seeds readily each year and a good friend might be more than willing to give you all the starts you need. I don't mulch under my bushes, so that may be helpful to know. They drop seeds under the mother plant and they come up everywhere like crazy.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 22, 2009

What kind of food should I use on my Burning Bush?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By leah0860 from Morganville, NJ

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October 23, 20090 found this helpful

I spread some mulch under my buring bushes a few years ago. Other than that I leave mine alone. Right now they are a brillant red.

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October 23, 20090 found this helpful

They don't require a lot of care. An organic mulch is really all they need because the mulch will break down over the years and improve the soil. If they were doing poorly this year, an inch of compost around them will help feed them without stressing them.

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September 10, 20120 found this helpful

Can I trim a burning bush after the leaves fall and before winter sets in? We live in New York state.

By Janet M.

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September 10, 20120 found this helpful

This page has some information about pruning.

http://www.thri  2138569.tip.html

Generally, I believe early spring and later winter are good times to do heavy pruning. Light trimming can be done just about any time.

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By 0 found this helpful
November 8, 2010

What is the proper time to prune a burning bush?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By Earline from Henderson, NC

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Answers

November 12, 20100 found this helpful

I have several burning bushes and I prune them whenever I think of it, Any time I have my pruners in my hands maybe pruning something else. They have always done fine. I don't think you could kill them if you tried.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 14, 2010

I just noticed that the rabbits did quite a number on all my burning bushes this winter. They have pruned them down quite a bit. Will this affect their growth this summer? Or doesn't it matter?

Hardiness Zone: 5b

By Vicki from Hannibal, NY

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Answers

March 14, 20100 found this helpful

If the trimming was mainly on the ends of branches towards middle, bush will probably be fuller. If they took off whole branches in uneven manner, hard to say. Pruning often encourages growth.

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June 15, 20060 found this helpful
Q: I have a bug problem and no idea what they are. I have a Burning Bush, now 3 years old. I found what looks like black aphid looking bugs. They are very sticky and the black ants are all over where they are. The growth that they are on looks wilted. I have cut off all the bad parts but they come back. I am looking for a natural way to rid of them because the bush is near our garlic. Does anyone know what these are, the cause of them, how to rid of them?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Thank you,
Countrygal from New Castle, PA

A: Countrygal,

It sounds like you have a classic case of aphids. The sticky substance you're referring to is called honeydew and is secreted by the feeding aphids. Ants just love to feed on honeydew, hence the sudden explosion of ants around your bushes. Some species of ants will actually "farm" aphids-caring for them and protecting them so that the ants have access to a constant supply of honeydew.

Give the leaves a good forceful spray (within reason) with the garden hose. This will knock off most of the aphids. To get rid of the remaining pests, mix 1 finely chopped onion, 1 large clove of finely chopped garlic, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of water. Put this all in a blender on high and then strain out the solids using cheesecloth or the toe of an old pantyhose. Pour this into a hand-held sprayer and spray this all over your burning bush. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for several weeks and keep using it at the first sign of trouble.

Good luck!
Ellen

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 12, 20060 found this helpful

Keep your eye on them--once the ants discover them, they may well take care of the problem! If not, mix up some mildly soapy water and spray that on the bushes, it should take care of them! (Luckily they're easy to get rid of!) Watch, though, that they don't invade other plants, or get on your roses.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 1, 2015

It is October 1st in Wichita Kansas; can I still plant a burning bush?

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May 16, 20140 found this helpful

How can you start a new bush from the one you have?

By Jane

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June 21, 20130 found this helpful

Is it too late to plant a burning bush?

By Jr from MO

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August 20, 20120 found this helpful

My sister says the leaves on her burning bush are looking like you can almost see thru them. I want to help her with them, but am not sure where to start or what exactly to do.

By Libby F.

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August 19, 20120 found this helpful

I sprayed my yard with bug spray and since then all the leaves have fallen off of my burning bushes and they look dead. It is August and I don't know what to do to make them produce more leaves. Should I go ahead and prune them to three inches or wait until early spring? We live in Tennessee and the temps are crazy this time of year so I don't know what to do. Can anyone help?

By Heather

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May 25, 20120 found this helpful

My burning bushes have been healthy for 15 years, but 4 years ago they started developing light green spots on the new growth. By mid summer the leaves start turning brown around the edges and dying. They start the spring full, green, and healthy looking and then become diseased. No one knows what is wrong with them. Can you help?

By Sam P

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August 24, 20110 found this helpful

We recently planted a dwarf burning bush. It is in full sun, in sandy, well drained soil and I water it daily. Some of the leaves are brittle and brown. Am I watering too much?

By Pam

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By 0 found this helpful
July 16, 2010

I live in Texas, when is the best time to plant a dwarf burning bush?

Hardiness Zone: 8b

By Lou from San Angelo, TX

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Photos

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By 6 found this helpful
April 15, 2011

This past fall the burning bush did well. It took a year or two to get so pretty. The first year I was disappointed, but the wait was worth it.

By Linda

bright red foliage

Comment Like this photo? 6

Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

April 15, 20110 found this helpful

Garden: Burning Bush

This is our brilliant fall burning bush and variegated barberry.

By Jackie from Enumclaw, WA

Answers:

Garden: Burning Bush

Very pretty flowers, thanks for sharing, good luck. (10/27/2009)

By kffrmw88

Garden: Burning Bush

Beautiful picture, gorgeous bush! Good job on picture composition. Thumbs up! (10/29/2009)

By catastrofy

Garden: Burning Bush

Stunning colours! (10/30/2009)

By skinnyjinny

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October 22, 20090 found this helpful

My Burning Bush shrub has turned red and the bush is dying. The four other Burning Bushes are fine. What could have happen?

By kashst from Shelby Twp. MI

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July 20, 20090 found this helpful

My Burning Bush's leaves are droopy, the soil is moist.

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By ngf_4 from Orleans, MI

Answers:

Caring for a Burning Bush Plant

I have a gorgeous Burning Bush that keeps growing, but I'm considering removing and destroying it, since it is an invasive plant that is illegal to be sold in my state, New Hampshire. This kind of plant has become quite a problem in some areas and is thought to be a future danger to our ecology. Do look into this. There are some nice alternatives that I've been encouraged to plant instead. Good luck. (06/05/2009)

By NH veggie lover

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May 29, 20090 found this helpful

I'm trying to find information on the care and growing of the plant called "Burning Bush". How often should they be given plant food, pruning, any kind of disease to look for, etc.? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Susan from Virginia

Answers:

Caring For a Burning Bush Plant

Deer and rabbits like to eat it, so I have found out. (05/09/2005)

By valleyrimgirl

Caring For a Burning Bush Plant

I have had Burning Bushes for years. When I first planted them I gave them Miracle Grow about once a week. After that I haven't done anything special for them and they grow like crazy. My husband has to prune them each year. You can just let them grow but they get huge. I have never had any problems with them. They get full sun. I'm not sure if that matters. (05/14/2005)

By Eve

Caring For a Burning Bush Plant

I have two burning bushes I purchased online three years ago. They are planted in full sun twenty feet apart with a birdbath between them. The first year, they barely grew at all. The second year they went from two feet to three. This year they are really growing fast should reach five feet easily. No special care aside from some Miracle Grow when I planted them and I keep competing weeds away. I figure by next year they will be above the privacy fence. (07/13/2008)

By RISK

Caring For a Burning Bush Plant

Have one that is probably 40 years old. Keep it at first story gutter height for manageability. Trim in the spring time, just prior to leaves sprouting. Theory is to conserve plant energy hoping for lower branch development. Assume it can be done anytime from fall forward. (10/16/2008)

By Neptune

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January 31, 20110 found this helpful

Is there any special winter care for burning bushes?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By Kim from Des Moines, IA

Answers:

Growing a Burning Bush

Well I have 6 of them in direct sun and don't do anything to them and they look great. I am in zone 6. Further north than zone 5. (11/08/2010)

By foxrun41

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November 7, 20100 found this helpful


By Ellen Brown

Question:

I am looking for tips on growing burning bushes.

Hardiness Zone: 5b

Donna from Orange Count, NY

Answer:

Donna,

Burning bushes happen to be one of my favorite shrubs. They are low maintenance and offer wonderful fall color, and add interest to the winter landscape. Here are some hints for growing them:

Good luck!

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

Answers:

Growing a Burning Bush

Make sure you plant it in full sun. That is what makes it turn red in the fall. I made a mistake and planted mine shaded by a tree. (06/30/2008)

By malinda

Growing a Burning Bush

I have 3 and they surprised me by tolerating high winter winds from the north and salt spray from a busy street. They seem very hardy. They are planted in average garden soil. They do get good sun and do turn bright red in fall. I am also in zone 5. (06/30/2008)

By OhioGirl

Growing a Burning Bush

They are very hardy shrubs. Mine are assaulted by rabbits every year, especially in the winter. For the first few years we had to keep a chicken wire fence around them. Once they got established and a bit larger we took the fences down. The rabbits still love them, but they are strong enough to survive them now. (07/01/2008)

By Beth

Growing a Burning Bush

Plant them in full sun. Water somewhat regularly the first year and after that, only during periods of very hot, dry weather. They are tough, hardy bushes and one of the few left alone by deer. They love neglect in my yard and are thriving in poor rocky clay soil. Let them grow a couple years before pruning. (07/01/2008)

By Tina, zone 5

Growing a Burning Bush

I have two established burning bushes in my front yard. One is in 90% sun and one is in 90% shade. Obviously one is a bit bigger than the other, but they both turn red. The one in the shade just takes a bit longer. This spring only one of the branches of the entire bush bloomed. The rest of the bush is bare. Is this common? (08/05/2009)

By Marylumac

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July 16, 20100 found this helpful

Will a burning bush grow in acidic soil where pine trees used to be?

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Read More...

April 20, 20100 found this helpful

How and when do I plant a burning bush?

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