Burning bush is a striking shrub, with fiery scarlet foliage throughout the fall. This bush is as low-maintenance as it is dazzling, making it exceptionally easy to grow as either a single bold specimen plant or in a bright red row to form a low privacy screen. The visual interest extends beyond the fall, once the leaves have fallen, especially when they’re new. Young burning bush shrubs have distinct ridges on their green-brown stems.
It’s important to note that Burning bush is considered an invasive species in certain parts of the country, including areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and South. You can find out if the plant is invasive in your area by contacting your local cooperative extension or your local garden center.
Burning Bush at a Glance
- Fiery scarlet foliage in fall
- Attracts birds, pollinators, and wildlife
- Red-orange berries in fall
- Excellent landscape plant
Burning bush shrubs are mounded, with multiple stems and angular branches. They are incredibly eye-catching, with their vibrant red leaves in fall that appear as if they’re on fire. They drop in the winter, and the shrubs’ finely ridged, green-brown stems are on full display. In direct contrast to their warm hue in fall, burning bush shrubs have lush blue-green leaves in spring and summer.
Burning bush shrubs grow to a maximum height of 4-8 feet tall and width of 4-8 feet, making them perfect for standout specimens or to be planted in mass as a privacy screen, hedge, or windbreak.
|Hardiness Zones||Zones 4-8|
|Type of tree||Deciduous|
|Sunlight requirements||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil composition||Highly adaptable but requires well-drained soil|
USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the regions where plants can grow based on minimum winter temperatures. Burning bush shrubs grow across most of the country, from Zones 4-8. That encompasses almost everywhere but some of the hottest parts of the country, including southern Florida and southern Texas.
In planting your burning bush, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Choose a planting site that receives full sunlight to partial shade, with a preference for full sun, if possible.
- Clear away any weeds, debris, or turfgrass.
- Dig a hole two to three times the width of the root ball and the same depth.
- Remove your shrub from the container it came in and loosen the roots gently with your fingers or a small spade.
- Set your burning bush in the hole, with the root ball’s top edge either at or slightly above the level of the surrounding soil.
- Backfill the soil, tamping down as you go to get rid of any air pockets. Once you’ve finished, water the area deeply.
- Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch over the root zone, careful not to touch the trunk.
- To create a hedge, plant them 5-7 feet apart.
Burning bush shrubs are hardy, robust plants that can grow under a variety of soil and light conditions and resist both pests and drought.
Burning bush shrubs flourish in full sun—at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day—but they can also grow in partial shade. For the most vivid colors, you’ll want to plant them in full sun. Too much shade can lead to a faded, pinkish hue in fall.
Burning bush shrubs are highly adaptable to a wide range of soil types. The pH level doesn’t have any impact on their growth, and they can thrive in everything from sand to clay. However, the soil must be semi-moist and well-drained.
Once established, burning bush shrubs are drought-tolerant. For the first few months after planting, water more often. Then, you can reduce it to about the equivalent of one inch of rainfall per week.
Feed your burning bush shrub in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer specially designed for trees and shrubs. Doing this will prime your shrub for excellent growth during spring.
You should prune your burning bush shrub in late winter or early spring, either to maintain its shape or to boost new growth. Always be sure to remove any dead, damaged, or diseased wood close to the main branch to encourage the emergence of a healthy bud.
Burning bush is considered invasive in certain areas because it can threaten existing plants and biodiversity. The bush is dominant and seeds prolifically, which means it can force out other plants, especially herbaceous and native woody plant species. Some nurseries have discontinued selling them for this reason, while those that do sell them must state that the plants are invasive. We encourage you to check with local garden centers or the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health to see if the plant is invasive in your region or not.
If so, you may want to consider native alternatives, such as chokeberry or fragrant sumac.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do they need full sun?
No. Burning bush shrubs can grow in partial shade, but their colors will be less vivid in fall.
Do they grow quickly?
Burning bush shrubs grow at a slow-moderate pace of 1-2 feet per year until they reach maturity.
How far apart do you plant them?
If you want to create a hedge, plant them 5-7 feet apart.
When is the best time to plant them?
The best time to plant a burning bush shrub is fall or early spring.
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