The Q&A Archives: Hearts A Busting Plant

Question: I recently brought back a native plant from West VA that was identified as "Hearts a Busting" & I can't find anything about it. It gets a fruit like bloom that resembles a brillant red rasberry that splits with a bright red seed bursting out of the center. I believe this will groww to be a shrub but can't find any info under this name. I need to know what conditions are best-zone, soil & moisture requirements, light, size it will grow, annual or perennial, when will it 1st bloom, propagating techniques, etc.

Answer: This is a native shrub called Euonymous americanus. It is sometimes called Hearts Abustin' and sometimes Strawberry Bush. The name refers to the seed capsules which are quite a sight in the fall. They follow the small blooms which appear in summer.

According to Michael Dirr's "Manual of Woody Plants" this shrub is native from New York to Florida and west to Texas, and so should be hardy in USDA zone 6 or possibly to zone 5. He describes it as a loose, suckering shrub in the 4 to 6 foot range growing as an understory plant in the forest. (In my experience they can grow a bit larger than that.)

To some extent I sould expect the hardiness of an individual plant may depend on where it originated so that a southern grown plant might be less hardy than one that was started from northern stock.

Since this is a little used native plant, there is a dearth of information available about propagating it. You might experiment with seeds in a cool moist stratification as well as with some softwood cuttings and root divisions. I have transplanted self sown seedlings with good success. I'm sorry I can't immediately find documented propagation methods for you.

Enjoy your new shrub!

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