UACES Facebook Burning Bush

Burning Bush

October 2005

QuestionI need your advice! Several years ago my wife and I were in Pennsylvania and purchased two small bushes the locals call fire bushes. They seem to do well in that area and turned a brilliant burning orange/red in the fall. We transplanted these two shrubs in our yard in Conway and they have grown very large. A couple of problems we are having. This time of year they seem to start dropping all of their leaves so very little if any color appears in the fall. The other problem is that these bushes seem to be home to dozens of sparrows. Could the birds be the cause of the leaves dropping due to the birds taking up residence in them and all the defecating that is taking place? I try to make my yard a bird sanctuary by providing many bird feeders and bird baths. I enjoy my yard full of birds which unfortunately seem to be mainly sparrows but would also enjoy seeing these bushes in full fall color as we did in Pennsylvania. Any advice you could provide would be appreciated.


AnswerWe seem to be having a lot of travelers to the New England area these days, all coming back with reports of the spectacular fire bushes—which we call burning bush. Euonymus alatus is the scientific name, and yes they do grow here as well. Fall color is often not as spectacular in the south as it is in the northern states, due to fall weather conditions, and sometimes summer stress. For ideal fall color, the plants prefer cool nights and warm days, ample soil moisture and a shift in the temperatures. Often our fall temperatures are still quite high, and the nights can be almost as warm as our days. I don’t think birds should be causing leaf drop, but do pay attention to watering needs. Don’t overdo it, but don’t let them shut down early because of dry conditions.

December 2008

QuestionWe planted several fire bushes four years ago and they have never turned the beautiful red color they were supposed to in the fall. They are planted under and beneath a large post oak and a large white oak tree. Have we planted them in the wrong place?


AnswerI assume you mean burning bush or Euonymus alatus. This plant has its best fall color where it gets full morning sun and a little shade in the afternoon. If it is in deep shade, it may not have much fall color. I have seen them in full sun all day with ok color as well, but water is more of an issue. They are more tolerant of dry conditions in partial shade. Warm days and cool nights also aid in color establishment. If you need to move the plants to a sunnier location, move them from now through early March.      


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