Avoid the burning bush

Q. My burning bushes are turning brown and the bark is breaking off the branch. The first one died and two others are doing the same thing. What do I do?

Andrew from Austintown

A. Rejoice! In all seriousness, we can help you with the problem. Although, I never recommend burning bush be planted in the landscape. Ever.

The plant is a very common landscape plant. It is still sold in large quantities. You can find it at nearly every garden center.

But I have personally observed it reseeding in unmowed areas, flower beds and in our woodlands throughout the Mahoning Valley.

This plant is native to Asia. Birds eat the seeds and disperse them.

In the case of your burning bush, the likely cause is a root disease. There are many other issues that could be affecting the plants, though.

The tell-tale sign for my educated guess is the peeling of the bark away from the stem.

If the peeling was not happening and just the leaves were falling, we might look at spider mite feeding.

Things to look at are watering practices, soil conditions and ponding of water after rains.

There is no easy cure.

Thus, prune out the dead branches and hope for the best. If the plant dies, do not replant with the same species.

On the other hand, this may be a sign that your burning bushes should be removed and replaced. My recommendation for replacement would be any cultivar of Oakleaf hydrangea.

Oakleaf hydrangea is truly a magnificent plant that will grace your landscape for years to come.

To learn more about burning bush visit go.osu.edu/burning. To learn more about Oakleaf Hydrangeas visit go.osu.edu/oakleaf.

Eric Barrett is Ohio State University Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office hot line at 330-533-5538 from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays to submit your questions.

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