The Q&A Archives: sick burning bush

Question: We transplanted a large (4') burning bush last fall. It was gorgeous after the transplant and looked very healthy this spring and most of the summer. In the last two weeks it has turned reddish-brown and the leaves are wilting and feel dry. I believe it gets adequate water (never required much before) could it have a disease? I can't find anything online except scale which I thought was an everygreen euonymous problem.

Answer: Based on your description it does sound like drought stress. This can happen after transplanting when the heat of summer puts the maximum stress on the root system. The root system is still developing and re-establishing after being moved, so it is not fully able to move moisture up into the plant yet. Make sure to water so that the soil stays evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet/saturated and never dried out. When you water, apply it slowly and make sure it is soaking down deep to the deepest roots. After watering, dig down and see how far the water soaked in, sometimes it can be surprising. To know when to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp, do not water yet. Using a layer of organic mulch over the root area will also help, it should be about three inches thick in a flat layer. Also, do not fertilize it at all until next spring. Your burning bush should do better next summer when it has had more time to root.

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