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Burning bush-not for Vermont gardens

Burning bush is an invasive plant you should not put in landscapes, and for which there are many good alternatives. This is a common ornamental plant whose seeds are spread by birds and wildlife to natural areas where they invade, crowding out native plants. There are several alternative plants you can use instead of burning bush, or to replace it.

Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is an attractive shrub, often overused in landscapes, noted and named for its brilliant red foliage in the fall. It is deciduous, as are its alternatives, that is they lose their leaves in winter. It is easily sheared into hedges, or seen planted in masses. Left unpruned, it can reach 10 to 14 feet high and wide.

Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is a good native alternative to the burning bush, not quite as tall but also with red fall color on several selections. Its many burgundy, young twiggy stems give it winter interest too. This plant of course has edible berries for people and wildlife. Even though it is self-pollinating, you may get more fruit from using at least two selections. It can tolerate occasionally wet soils.

Fothergilla has species that can be used both for foundation plantings (F.gardenii) and for naturalistic settings (F. major), reaching 3 to 4 feet high, or 6 to 10 feet high, respectively. Their habit is dense and rounded. Both have fall leaves mixed in colors of red, yellow, and orange for an attractive effect. The lightly fragrant flowers (like honey) in spring are shaped like bottlebrushes. Fothergilla is hardy in the warmer parts of the north (USDA zones 5 and warmer). When looking for these shrubs, consider the lower cultivar Appalachia, or the taller Mount Airy.Both tend to sucker,or send up shoots on the sides.

Redvein Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) has good red fall color on plants that can get 6 to 12 feet high, and a bit less wide, giving it an upright appearance.

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