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David Beaulieu

Burning Bush: Fall From Grace of a Fall-Foliage Star

By August 18, 2013

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picture of burning bush in fall

Burning bush shrubs put on a fall foliage show for the ages. Their fall foliage color ranges from red to pinkish-red. Burning bush also bears reddish-orange berries in autumn. In winter, snow and ice cling prettily to the cork-like strips that protrude from burning bush's branches; also called "wings," these strips account for why "winged euonymus" is another common name for the plant.

Add to all this the fact that this plant is easy to grow and you might be surprised, at first, to learn that burning bush is one of the most hated shrubs among North American gardeners "in the know." But precisely this last fact is the problem: burning bush is a bit too easy to grow for its own good! Find out more about this shrub and why it fell from grace in my article on burning bush.

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Photo ©2013 David Beaulieu, Landscaping Guide (licensed to About, Inc.)

Comments

August 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm
(1) jet says:

Our burning bush has never turned red. We live in the high desert of Nevada. It is planted in front of a cedar fence with our plants. The top leaves start to turn brown in August. Do we need to fertilize or ? to get it to turn the brilliant red we expected?

August 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm
(2) landscaping says:

I have no personal experience with growing burning bush in a climate such as yours. It’s possible that burning bush simply doesn’t perform well under the hot, dry conditions you face. Do you see other homeowners growing the shrub in your area and, if so, does theirs turn red in fall? If so, you might wish to strike up a conversation with them and learn from them the secret to growing burning bush in the high desert.

August 30, 2009 at 9:00 am
(3) Brian says:

I have two burning brushes location on the SE side of my home (Madison Wi), and for the last 2-3 years the leaves are all off by the end of August after turning a little red. Is this typ.? I never seem to get full color display as shown in all the fall pic’s of burning brushes.

August 31, 2009 at 1:39 pm
(4) landscaping says:

Brian,

Not typical at all. Burning bush is a vigorous grower (in fact, as this blog post alludes to, it’s invasive). Just a guess, but perhaps it’s something about the soil in the present location, or maybe your burning bushes are receiving either too much or not enough water. I would try transplanting one of the burning bushes (and/or any suckers) to another sunny spot and irrigate moderately.

October 22, 2009 at 1:47 pm
(5) Pam says:

My burning bush has never turned red can you tell me why?

October 23, 2009 at 12:51 am
(6) david beaulieu says:

Pam,

Could be an issue of sun or soil. Burning bush does best in full sun. If your burning bush is, indeed, in full sun, try a soil test.

October 25, 2009 at 5:09 pm
(7) Charlo Maurer says:

These are invasive plants that should never be planted any more. They are spreading into the woodland areas of many states and taking over, pushing out other native species. Birds eat the fruit and spread the seeds far and wide. Many state prohibit the sale of burning bush, so please don’t plant them.

September 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm
(8) Louise Tyvol says:

My burning bush did not turn red. I read to fertilize it, so I did a few times this summer. I am located in north central Wisconsin. There are many red ones I see in the area that are full. Mine only turned a little, with a few red leaves, and it appears to be losing them now. Only has leaves on the outside now. It is in full south sun all day. I watered it every day. If that is too much, how much should I water it and how often?

October 16, 2012 at 9:30 am
(9) landscaping says:

Louise,

It’s interesting that you’re the second person from Wisconsin with a burning bush problem (see Brian’s post above). I would say that, yes, watering every day is too much. I would recommend digging down into the soil outside the root ball (so that you don’t damage the roots) to check to see if it’s moderately moist. If not, water. If it is moist, don’t water. After a while, you’ll probably become more intuitive about the need for water and won’t have to go through this process of checking the soil every single time.

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