How to Care for a Dwarf Burning Bush

Burning bush (Euonymus alatas) originates in Asia and probably arrived in North America in the mid-19th century. Its popularity as a landscape shrub grew, both because of its vibrant red fall foliage and the ease with which it grows and tolerates a range of conditions. Although wild burning bush can reach 20 feet in height, more compact cultivars have reduced it to proportions more appropriate for the home garden. The "Compactus" cultivar, in particular, is popular as a dwarf form of the shrub, reaching only about 10 feet in height.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost or other organic matter
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears
  • Hose
  1. Planting

    • 1

      Plant burning bush in full sun or partial sun/shade. It also withstands windy conditions. Allow enough space for the bush to become as wide as it is expected to grow tall.

    • 2

      Test the soil if you aren't sure about the soil conditions already. Burning bush has no special soil requirements, but a soil test can identify nutritional deficiencies, pH problems or toxic mineral levels that could affect plant growth.

    • 3

      Amend the soil at the planting site with organic matter to improve drainage, per soil test recommendations. The burning bush prefers a moist, well-drained soil. Avoid amending only the planting hole, as this can cause roots to stay bound in the hole rather than developing outward.

    • 4

      Dig a hole the depth of the root ball and at least twice as wide. Place the plant in the hole and refill the hole with soil. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the plant to keep the soil moist.


    • 1

      Prune burning bush in the spring by removing up to 1/3 of the oldest branches. Cut them back to ground level, which will encourage new, young branches to take their place.

    • 2

      Provide water during drought periods to keep the soil moist. The burning bush requires medium amounts of water; it doesn't like saturated soils.

    • 3

      Maintain mulch around the plant to prevent the soil from drying out and to keep organic content high, which improves drainage.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rabbits can damage young burning bush plants in the winter. If rabbits pose a problem, enclose the shrub with chicken wire until it matures enough to withstand the occasional nibbling.
  • Burning bush can invade woodland environments and displace native species that do not have its exceptional survival abilities. In some states, because of its high invasive potential, it is illegal to plant burning bush. Check with your local extension office or a nursery before planting this shrub.
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