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Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’ (Dwarf Burning Bush)

Height: 1.2 m (4 feet)
Spread: 1.2 m (4 feet)
Bloom: small yellow-green in early spring
Foliage: medium green with brilliant scarlet fall colour
Berries: small red berries persist through winter
Exposure: full sun to part shade, best fall colour in full sun Pluses: shape, ease of care, brilliant red fall colour

A must have shrub in any mixed shrub border as this plant has an abundance of good features. Start off with a terrific rounded to slightly vase shaped shrub that holds its shape with little pruning (prune mostly to maintain size although in my garden I do not prune at all). Small yellow-green flowers appear in late spring followed by medium to dark green foliage all summer. The foliage then turns a brilliant scarlet in fall if planted in full sun. Winter brings small red berries and brown corky-ridged bark for a true four season appeal. I have Burning Bush planted in several gardens as an accent plant but it would work as well in mass plantings if you have room or as a hedge.

Euonymus alatus compactus - burning bush
Burning bush in summer

Compactus is a dwarf variety growing only 4-5 feet in my zone 5 Southern Ontario garden. It is a slow grower, tolerates a variety of soils, is drought tolerant and has never been bothered by pests in our garden. The only caveat is that it is loved by deer and rabbits.

Bright red fall foliage of burning bush
Burning bush consistently produced bright red fall foliage colour

Appropriately named Burning Bush for its brilliant scarlet foliage in fall when planted in full sun. This Burning Bush is planted as an accent shrub in my Bird Sanctuary. Red berries do appear in fall but are mostly hidden by foliage until winter. The berries persist through most of the winter. I have occassionally seen birds sitting in the base of the plant among the berries if they are not snow covered.

Burning Bush winter berries
Berries on Dwarf Burning Bush

Garden Location: I moved two burning bushes pre-existing on the property in 2006. These were large shrubs already but with a shallow root system burning bush is relatively easy to move although I needed my front end loader to move them around the yard! Several more have been added to the Front Gardens and Pool Garden although those is the back gardens experience severe browsing from rabbits each winter. Growth is quickly replaced though.

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