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Autumnal Mistake – The Burning Bush

We went away for the weekend to join a friend in her birthday celebration. Everywhere we went we saw brilliant burning bushes, Euonymus alatus. It is easy to understand the popularity of this shrub. It is dependable and long lived, tolerant of many soils and able to grow in sun or shade, as well as having desirable fall color. However, it is an invasive plant, native to Asia, able to crowd and shade out many other plants. Because birds feed on its fruits the shrub gets spread over a wide area. It should not be sold in a nursery and those who own it should consider replacing it with a non-invasive plant that will give you the same color.

Early this summer I planted a Sourwood tree, Oxydendrom. It is native to the eastern and southeatern US. I bought it at Nasami Farm in Whately, a nursery run by the New England Wildflower Society that specializes in native trees, shrubs and perennials. I chose it because of the promised fall color; and it has delivered, a glory early in the morning when the sun shines through the foliage.

I already have high bush blueberries growing in the garden and I think their autumnal shades are just as beautiful as the burning bush. And I have the benefit of all those luscious and nutritious berries. Blue berries are a wonderful shrub. Mine are over 20 years old and have had no problems with pests or disease. Though they require little care beyond pruning out deadwood they are still producing good crops. Because blueberries need cross pollination I have planted Atlantic, Blueray, Bluecrop, and Herbert. My season is long and prolific.

When adding new plants to the garden think about fall color, but think beyond the burning bush.

3 comments to Autumnal Mistake – The Burning Bush

  • Carol

    I agree! There are many good shrubs to plant instead of burning bush. Two I like are Fothergilla and Korean Spice Viburnum. Both have blooms and a richer fall coloring.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  • Anna

    I have owned a Burning Bush and never noticed it to be invasive. Proven Winners has a new dwarf burning bush. Maybe that would be better. It’s good to know other choices and thanks for pointing that out. I would never have known if I hadn’t read this.

  • Pat Leuchtman

    Carol – thanks for the additional suggestions. We can always count on you!
    Anna – The visibility of invasive plants is not always clear because it is the far flying birds who spread the seeds. I wonder if Proven Winners new hybrid is sterile because I understood that it is illegal to sell. But maybe that is only a local prohibition. I’ll have to check that.

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