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Growing a Burning Bush

By Ellen Brown


I am looking for tips on growing burning bushes.

Hardiness Zone: 5b

Donna from Orange Count, NY



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:


  • You can grow them in full sun to part shade, but their color will be the greatest in full sun.

  • They prefer moist, well-drained soil, but are very adaptable to poor soils, drought, and heat stress.

  • Burning bushes can develop mild leaf chlorosis (yellowed leaves) in soils that are too alkaline. This can easily be remedied with regular applications of fertilizer and by mulching with pine needles or chopped leaves to help maintain the proper pH.

  • Burning bushes will tolerate moderate amounts of pollution, but they don't do very well with road salt. Avoid planting them too close to busy streets.

  • Occasional annual pruning may be necessary to keep full-sized bushes looking neat. Dwarf varieties rarely need pruning.

  • Using hardwood mulch around the base of your bushes (typically waste wood from municipal tree trimmings and offered free to the public at landfills) can induce a nitrogen deficiency in the soil because it has a tendency to break down very rapidly. This can be remedied with regular applications of fertilizer or by using mulch that decomposes more slowly (for example, pine, cedar, or cypress).

  • Insect pests are not usually a problem, but keep an eye out for scale. Watch for hungry rabbits and rodents nibbling on bare lower branches in the winter.
Good luck!


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


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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