When Burning Bush Won't Burn!
Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulturist,
Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture,
I've received many calls over the years from folks that want
to know why their burning bush fails to display the expected
brilliant red fall color. There are many factors involved in
determing fall color display, not the least of which is genetics
of the plant. There is great variation among the commonly sold
cultivars, and even more variable among seedling offspring. So
the first question to ask is whether this particular plant ever
had outstanding fall color? If not, likely it is lacking the
genes responsible for great fall color.
If a plant has had great color in previous years, then the cause
for poor coloration this year is likely to be related to the
environment. Even among the same cultivars, fall color is often
not uniform from plant to plant, or even from leaf to leaf on
the same plant. Plants or parts of plants may vary in exposure
to light, temperature, moisture, nutrients, and stress.
The photo on the left shows little fall color at a time when
other burning bush in the area are about at their peak. Despite
being the south facing side of the shrub, the overhanging tree
branches provide heavy shade.
The photo on the right, is of the northwest facing side of the
same shrub, which in this case is not shaded and so has a little
better coloration due to higher light levels. However, even this
side does not show as brilliant a display as the neighbor's plants.
So in this case it could be a combination of genetics and environment.
For a more thorough explanation of fall color, visit the following