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Everything You Need to Know About Burning Bush

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 02/17/2024

Burning bush serves many purposes, such as adding curb appeal and privacy to your home. But despite being a generally low-maintenance shrub, it’s considered an invasive species in certain parts of the country—namely, areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and South. Some states have even banned burning bush sales to preserve natural plant life. Given these numerous state warnings and bans, we do not recommend planting burning bush in your yard.


Invasiveness

Burning bush is considered invasive in many 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 it for this reason, while those that do must state that the plants are invasive. Burning bush has been listed as an invasive plant in over 20 states and banned in several others, including Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania

We encourage you to check with local garden centers or the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health to see if your region considers the plant invasive. If so, we recommend native plants such as chokeberry or fragrant sumac.


Burning Bush at a Glance

Fiery scarlet foliage and red-orange berries in fall
Attracts birds, pollinators, and wildlife
Identified as an invasive species in over 20 states
Sales banned in several states, including Massachusetts and Pennsylvania

Appearance

Burning bush shrubs are mounded, with multiple stems and angular branches. In fall, their bright red leaves appear to be on fire. They drop in winter, turning into green-brown stems. In contrast to their warm hue in fall, burning bush shrubs have blue-green leaves in spring and summer.

Burning bush shrubs grow to a maximum of 4–8 feet tall and 4–8 feet wide and have typically been used as a privacy screen, hedge, or windbreak.


Specification

AppearanceDescription

Height

4-8 feet

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


Hardiness Zones

USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the regions where plants can grow based on minimum winter temperatures. Burning bush shrubs grow in zones 4–8, which encompass almost everywhere except some of the country’s hottest areas, such as southern Florida and southern Texas.


FAQ About Burning Bush

What is an invasive plant species?

An invasive plant species is a type of vegetation that spreads quickly and harms the local ecosystem. These plants are typically not native to the local environment and reproduce rapidly. Invasive plants negatively impact other plant life, taking resources such as light, water, and nutrients from surrounding vegetation. They also impact local wildlife, causing extensive environmental harm. 

How invasive is burning bush?

Burning bush is highly invasive. Wildlife carries its seeds to other areas, easily spreading it. When not maintained, it grows into dense bushes that overpower surrounding vegetation, disrupting the local ecosystem. 

How do you dispose of burning bush after removal?

After removing burning bush, you can dispose of it as yard waste or compost after removing the seeds, berries, and blossoms. If those aren’t options, you can bring it to a landfill. Additional options are air-drying the plants (while covered) until they die or safely burning the dried bushes. You can also hire a professional gardening or landscaping service for removal. 

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