How to Take Care of Burning Bushes

Burning bush (Euonymus alatus), also known as winged burning bush, is a deciduous shrub prized for its brilliant fall color. The plant's dark green leaves turn a striking red in autumn, giving the appearance of flames. Burning bush also features corky wings on attractive ridged stems during the winter months, making the plant visually appealing in all seasons. The shrub performs best in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4 through 8 and requires only minimal care to thrive as a hedge, border, screen or specimen plant in the home landscape.

Things You'll Need

  • Pocket knife
  • Organic mulch
  • Water-soluble fertilizer


    • 1

      Choose a planting site for burning bush that receives full sun to partial shade and has well-drained soil, for best results. Although shade tolerant, burning bush produces less brilliant color when grown in full or heavy shade. The shrub tolerates most soil types, but it cannot survive in waterlogged conditions.

    • 2

      Plant burning bush anytime the ground isn't frozen. Dig a hole about three times as wide and as deep as the root ball. Remove the bush from its container and score the root ball with a pocket knife about 1-inch deep from the top to the bottom on four sides. Plant at the same depth the bush was growing in the container.

    • 3

      Soak the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches immediately after planting to eliminate air pockets and help settle the soil around the roots. Continue watering the shrub about once a week, soaking the soil to a depth of at least 2 inches at each application.

    • 4

      Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch to the ground surrounding the burning bush after planting and providing the initial watering. This helps improve the soil's moisture conservation in summer and prevents the root ball from freezing during winter. Add more mulch as needed throughout the year to maintain a 2- to 3-inch layer at all times.

    • 5

      Feed the burning bush plant with a complete, water-soluble fertilizer once a year in early spring. The shrub responds most favorably to feeding just before new growth begins, although it will tolerate fertilization at any time. Apply the fertilizer according to the directions on the package.

Tips & Warnings

  • Burning bushes can tolerate heavy pruning, but the shrubs look more attractive when allowed to grow according to their natural form. If possible, prune away only damaged or diseased branches, stems and leaves.
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