Pruning A Burning Bush – When To Prune Burning Bush Plants

Pruning A Burning Bush – When To Prune Burning Bush Plants

By: Heather Rhoades

Burning bush (also known as Euonymus alatus) is a dramatic addition to any garden or landscape. While it is a popular shrub, burning bush is also a shrub that is prone to “overgrowing” its space. The health of a burning bush plant does not rely on regular burning bush pruning, the desired size and shape of the plant does.

Different Types of Burning Bush Pruning

Rejuvenation of a Burning Bush

Burning bushes are notorious for slowly overgrowing their space. What started out as a lovely, well-shaped shrub can turn into a monster of a plant that is scruffy, leggy, and sparse. While your first reaction would be to remove it, you should consider instead rejuvenating your burning bush. Rejuvenation is simply severely cutting back the plant so that it can grow all new growth.

To do rejuvenation pruning on a burning bush, take either a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears or hedge clippers and cut the entire burning bush plant down all the way to about 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm.) from the ground. While this may seem drastic, it is healthy for the plant and will result in the burning bush being forced to grow new, full, and more manageable growth.

Pruning a Burning Bush for Shape

When trimming burning bushes for shape, you can also use either a sharp pair of pruning shears or hedge clippers, depending on how much you want to shape the plant. Picture the shape that you wish for your burning bush and remove any branches that fall outside of that shape.

If you are pruning your burning bush so that it can grow as a hedge, remember to trim the top of the burning bush plant slightly more narrow than the bottom to allow light to reach all of the leaves on the shrub.

You may also want to thin out interior branches that may be crossing other branches or are unhealthy.

When to Prune a Burning Bush

When to prune burning bushes depends on why you want to prune your burning bush.

If you are trimming burning bushes to rejuvenate them, you should be doing this in early spring, before the burning bush starts to put out leaves.

If you are pruning a burning bush to shape it, you can prune it while it is dormant, in either late winter or very early spring.

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Read more about Burning Bush

How To Grow Burning Bushes – And Why To Be Cautious When Planting Them!

Although growing burning bushes can add big spring, summer and fall color to your landscape, there are a few downsides to planting this shrub that blazes in autumn with bright red foliage.

Burning bushes are known for their fast growth and beautiful leaves. Especially as autumn rolls around, and their canopy of foliage turns to a fiery red.

With the striking fall foliage of the burning bush, it is easy to see why it is a favorite for planting. But it does come with a few issues too.

But they can pose a few problems as well. And with that in mind, the pros and cons should be weighed before adding them into your plant mix. Here is a look at how to grow burning bushes, along with a few cautionary traits to consider before planting.

Burning bush shrubs are mounded, with multiple stems and angular branches. They are incredibly eye-catching, with their vibrant red leaves in fall that appear as if they’re on fire. They drop in the winter, and the shrubs’ finely ridged, green-brown stems are on full display. In direct contrast to their warm hue in fall, burning bush shrubs have lush blue-green leaves in spring and summer.

Burning bush shrubs grow to a maximum height of 4-8 feet tall and width of 4-8 feet, making them perfect for standout specimens or to be planted in mass as a privacy screen, hedge, or windbreak.


Appearance Description
Appearance Description
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

Burning Bush Landscaping Ideas

Need Burning Bush landscaping ideas? The Burning Bush is one of those shrubs that could be used in a variety of ways. Its adaptability, size and tolerance make this plant even more incredible. The attention grabbing, Burning Bush could go anywhere in your landscape and serve any purpose. The Burning Bush is great for foundation plants, privacy hedges, borders, entryways, mass planting and even formal planting.

Burning Bushes make great borders and hedges for both small and large properties. We suggest you plant these bushes 5-6 ft. apart if you choose them for your border. Plant several Burning Bushes 1 foot apart to create a hedge. These colorful shrubs makes a great hedge plant. They are very dense and grow into neat, compact hedges that require very little maintenance.The naturally round shape of the Burning Bush makes it a great choice as a focal point in your yard. The bright red beauty does not need to be surrounded by other plants in order to turn heads. It is a perfect specimen plant. The Burning Bush will turn your once mediocre yard into the talk of the neighborhood. The Burning Bush could also be placed in the center of your garden. Surround it with flowers with equally beautiful fall color.

Due to their incredible adaptability and tolerance for weather conditions and pollution, the Burning Bush is great for urban areas. Issues that sometimes inhibit other plants are no problem for the this tough shrub. It is the perfect choice for anyone, anywhere.

If you’re thinking of adding more plants to your yard, it is important to choose ones that pair well with the Burning Bush. The Burning Bush has such a dynamic red color that it over powers most plants. However, there are plants that when paired with the Burning Bush shrub will complement each other well.

Evergreens, woody trees and a few colorful trees all mix well with the Burning Bush. Evergreens are a perfect match for the Burning Bush. They provide the right contrasting background that will make the bright red of the Burning Bush pop! Evergreens are tall, pyramid like, with dark green feathery needles. They pair well with the Burning Bush which is upright, compact and round with smooth red leaves. When the leaves of the Burning Bush start to shed, the beautiful evergreen will provide a great backdrop for the bare branches. We suggest the Deodora Cedar, Japanese Cryptomeria or the Douglas Fir as suitable evergreens. The Crape Myrtle and River Birch pair well to create a forest like vibe for your landscape. These woody trees provide a peeling look, have flaking bark or multi stemmed trunks. These features mixed with the Burning Bush makes for a great combination.

Check out our Evergreen Trees and Shade Trees for complementary options!

Now, to add more color to your landscape, pick trees with primary colors that only enhance the beauty of this shrub. The Burning Bush is a fall delight. Therefore, adding other fall colors will look amazing! Trees with yellow such as the Ginkgo, Quaking Aspen or the Witch Hazel will provide such a contrast leaving people breathless. There are also trees such as the Sugar Maple and Sassafras that have a yellow to orange color to their leaves. These colors will go perfect with the Burning Bush. Perhaps you want to go one step further and bring in more red or a purplish color. The Japanese Maple is a great choice. However, do not be overbearing with these trees. You do not want to take away from or clash with the Burning Bush.

Browse our online plant nursery for the largest selection available.

Pruning Burning Bush

Burning bush can grow up to 15 feet tall and wide, although there are some smaller cultivars. While pruning is not necessary for the health of the plant, it will help to control the size and shape of the shrub, especially if you are using a burning bush as a hedge. You can remove any dead or damaged branches at any point in the year. Otherwise, pruning is best done in the late winter or early spring or after the shrubs finish flowering, advises Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

To thin your burning bush, cut back up to a third of the old branches from the bush. If you want to train the shrub to be more like a tree, remove the lower branches. If you are growing the bushes as a hedge, trip the tops and sides of the bushes to create a pleasing appearance. Wilson Bros Gardens recommends cutting the top of the shrubs so they are slightly more narrow than the bottom. If you need to rejuvenate your burning bush and encourage new growth, cut back the entire shrub to a height of 6 to 12 inches.

Prior to pruning, be sure to disinfect the pruning shears and hedge clippers. This will prevent diseases from spreading around your yard and garden. You can disinfect your tools by soaking them in a 10 percent bleach solution for about 30 minutes, advises University of Florida IFAS Gardening Solutions. Be sure to rinse the blades when you are done, as bleach can be corrosive.

Watch the video: Burning Bush Pruning Fall 2019