When Should I Fertilize a Burning Bush?

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Burning bushes (Euonymus alata) are shrubs native to Asia that are now grown in a wide array of climates in the United States, withstanding winters down to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 4. Burning bushes are easy to care for, but do benefit from supplemental waterings, especially during the summer. They also benefit from fertilizing, but knowing when to feed a burning bush is just as important as knowing what to use and how to apply it.

Early Spring

Early spring, when new growth begins, is the best time to fertilize a burning bush. It gives the bush the nutrients it needs to grow and thrive for the growing season. This is the time of year when many plants in your landscape will benefit from fertilizer.

Late Summer or Early Fall

You can apply a second dose of granular and liquid fertilizers in the late summer or early fall, especially for young bushes planted within the last couple of years. However, don’t wait too long to fertilize them. A burning bush, like most bushes, will have a growth spurt after fertilizing, and new growth is susceptible to winter damage. Apply the fertilizer at least two months before you expect the first frost to give the new growth time to mature and harden off.

What Kind of Fertilizer

A granular or liquid fertilizer is ideal. Select one that is high in nitrogen since burning bushes thrive in nitrogen-rich soil. Nitrogen is the first element listed on the three-number ratio written on all fertilizer labels, such as 21-7-14 or 20-10-10. If you select a slow-releasing formula or fertilizer spike, feed your bush a second time. Also, as an alternative to fertilizer, you can use well-rotted manure, working a bushel of manure around the base of a 6-foot shrub in the spring only.

Applying Fertilizers

Read the directions on your fertilizer package before applying it and adhere to the recommended dosing amounts since fertilizers have different strengths. Granular and slow-release fertilizers are sprinkled on top of the soil and watered in. If you have mulch around the base of your bush, move it out of the way first, then replace it after watering. If possible, work the fertilizer into the top couple inches of soil. Liquid fertilizers are attached to your hose and applied as you water your bush. Stake fertilizers are inserted next to the bush and left there to slowly release fertilizer throughout the year.

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