How To Plant A Dwarf Burning Bush

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This article provides tips for how to plant a burning bush shrub
by Brett · All Zones · Planting · 0 Comments · August 30, 2015 · 12,179 views

Burning bush is exceptionally easy to grow when planted right and in the right spot. Below are general guidelines for planting burning bush in various soil types ranging from clay, loam, sand or silt.

Here's the lowdown on what you need to know...

Soil Type
Burning bush are not too picky about soil type. They prefer a somewhat loose or sandy clay or loam with a moderately acid to slightly alkaline pH.

Soil Drainage
As with so many other types of plants, burning bush must have a well-drained soil. Constantly soggy or wet soil can and often causes root rot and other harmful plant diseases.

Before You Plant. If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant, it's well worth taking the time to test before planting. To test soil drainage, dig a 12" wide by 12" deep pilot hole where you intend to plant. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and could be a caution you might need to improve drainage, plant your burning bush in a raised mound or bed, or look for plant more tolerant of wet soil conditions.

How far apart you space your burning bush will depend on how you intend to use them in the landscape. For solid hedges space plants about 2 feet closer together "on center" that the mature width, which means from the center of one plant in the hedge row to the center of the next plant. For example, if you are planting a dwarf burning bush that grows 8-10 wide at maturity you would space plants 6 to 8 feet apart. If you want space between your burning bush space them 2 feet or further apart on center than their mature width.

How To Plant A Burning Bush

Below are guidelines for properly planting a Burning Bush. This planting technique is suitable for most average soils, particularly those found in the South, with the exception of sandy, quick-draining soils.

STEP 1 - Begin by digging a hole at least twice as wide as the rootball and not much deeper than the rootball. Place the soil around the perimeter of the hole or on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow.

STEP 2 - Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil you are planting in, you might need to add a soil amendment to the native soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in dense clay or poor soils thoroughly mix in some good organic matter such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil you might want to consider adding in some peat moss and or compost to help retain moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy soil you might not need to add any soil amendment.

STEP 3 - Grasp the plant by its base and gently tug on it to remove the root ball from the pot it was growing in. If the root ball is stuck in the pot either cut the container away or place the plant on it's side and pound lightly on the side of the container. This usually helps to loosen the root ball in the container. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. If rootbound, it may be necessary to use a claw tool to loosen roots. You can also use a stream from the garden hose to remove some of the soil from the side and bottom surfaces of the root ball. This should help to expose and loosen some feeder roots if necessary.

STEP 4 - If you're planting your shrub in well-drained soil, or a raised bed or mound, set plant into hole so that top of root-ball is level or slightly above the level of the soil surface. If you are in a site where the soil drains slowly, set the plant in the planting hole making sure that the top edge of the root ball is several inches above ground level. If necessary, add some of the back-fill soil mixture to the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.

NOTE: If the soil in the planting area is poorly drained (constantly soggy or wet) you can create a mound of soil completely above ground level to plant your burning bush in, or consider planting another plant species tolerant of wet soils.

STEP 5 - use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the root ball. If you are planting higher than ground level taper your soil mixture gradually from the top edge of the root ball to the ground level, as shown in the planting diagram above. To avoid suffocating your plant, do not put any soil on top of the root ball.

STEP 6 (Optional)** - With remaining soil mixture you can build a water retaining ring (catch basin) to around 3" or so in height around perimeter of planting hole or mound. This basin will help to collect water from rainfall and irrigation often reducing the need for hand-watering. The berm can be removed after a couple growing seasons.

STEP 7 - Next, deeply water the planting area, including the root ball. For an extra boost, you can water your newly planted Encore Azalea with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development. Root Stimulator reduces plant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants.

STEP 8 - Apply a 1 to 2" layer of aged, shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw around the planting area to concerve moisture and to suppress weed growth. Do not use freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of the shrub as this could cause the bark to rot.

You can buy Burning Bush shrubs online from

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