Burning bushes, also known as Euonymus alata, are among the most popular and common plants planted in landscapes throughout the United States. Its brilliant red color observed in the late summer and fall season is the reason for its popularity. While most plants maintain the same color year round, burning bushes go from green to red as the season changes from summer to fall.
Why then do so many burning bushes defoliate before they go from green leaves to brilliant red? The biggest culprit is spider mites. Spider mites feeding on burning bush will cause discolored leaves and leaf drop. Spider mites will suck the sap out of the leaf. This can severely stress the plant. Spider mites are not an insect. They have eight legs and are more closely related to spiders. Hot dry weather favors a population explosion of mites. You may see webbing on the leaves and branches. To determine if the plant is infested with spider mites, hold a sheet of white paper underneath some of the discolored leaves and tap the leaves. Tiny dark specks about the size of pepper that move around are spider mites.
So how do make sure your burning bush catch on fire? Ironically with water! That’s right; make sure you provide water to the plants to keep them healthy, especially during the hot and dry summer months. Spider mite damage will be more significant on stressed plants and a significant reason why they will defoliate. Additionally, treating the burning bushes with miticide insect control, mixed with water I might add, will control both the adult spider mites as well as the egg population that spreads the spider mites.
So go ahead and enjoy those burning bushes this year!
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