How to propagate euonymus?

Burning Bush Propagation: How To Propagate A Burning Bush

Burning bush (Euonumus alatus) is a tough but attractive landscape plant, popular in mass and hedge plantings. If you need several plants for your landscape design, why not try propagating your own? This article explains how to propagate a burning bush.

Can You Propagate Burning Bush from Seeds?

The easiest and surest way to propagate a burning bush is from cuttings taken in spring. These cuttings from new growth are called softwood cuttings. The stem is at the right stage of maturity to root easily if the tip snaps in two when you bend it in half. Rooting a burning bush from softwood cuttings is not only faster, but it also ensures that you’ll get a plant with the same characteristics as the parent shrub.

Burning bush grows from seeds, but it is much slower than taking cuttings. Collect the seeds in autumn, and place them in a jar of sand. Refrigerate them at about 40 F. (4 C.) for at least three months to encourage them to break dormancy.

Plant the seeds in summer when the soil is warm. It takes them about eight weeks to germinate.

How to Propagate Burning Bush Cuttings

Collect burning bush cuttings in the morning when the stems are well-hydrated. The morning after a drenching rain is best, or you can water the shrub the night before.

Cut the stem about an inch below the second set of leaves. If you aren’t going to take the cuttings indoors right away, place them in a plastic bag with moist paper towels and place them in the shade. Pinch off the bottom set of leaves, and cut the top leaves in half if they will touch the soil when you insert the stem 1.5 to 2 inches into the rooting mix.

A rooting mix that holds a lot of moisture encourages the lower end of the stem to rot. Choose a mix that drains freely, or mix three parts perlite with one part regular potting mix. Fill a pot to within one-half inch of the top with the mix.

Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone, deep enough to cover the nodes where you removed the lower leaves. If using a powdered rooting hormone, dip the stem in water first so the powder will stick to the stem. Use a pencil to make a hole in the rooting mix so that you don’t scrape the rooting hormone off when you insert the stem in the pot.

Insert the lower 1 1/2 to 2 inches of stem into the rooting mix. Firm the soil around the stem so that it stands upright. Cover the potted stem with a gallon milk jug that has the bottom cut out. This forms a mini greenhouse that keeps the air around the stem moist and increases the chances of successful burning bush propagation.

Spray the cutting and the surface of the soil with water when the top of the soil begins to dry. Check for roots after three weeks and every week thereafter. If there are no roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, give the stem a gentle tug. If it comes up easily, there are no roots to hold it in place and the plant needs more time. Remove the milk jug when the cutting develops roots, and gradually move the bush into brighter light.

How to Root an Euonymus Cutting

shrub-euonymus image by Jeffrey Zalesny from <a href=’’></a>

Euonymus is a species of plants grown as shrubs or vines in the United States. The most popular types of euonymus are shrubs with yellow variegated or red leaves. They grow to 6 feet tall or taller, and 5 to 6 feet wide under ideal growing conditions. Propagation of the euonymus shrub or vine from a growing tip is known as rooting, and you can root a section of a euonymus shrub to create a new plant.

Take a cutting from a growing tip of the euonymus shrub in late spring with a hand held pruning tool. The cutting should be just beginning to become woody. This is known as a semi-hardwood cutting. A hard woody cutting is known as a hardwood cutting, and tender growth is known as a softwood cutting. Cut the semi-hardwood cutting from a branch tip to a length of 6 to 8 inches. Choose a branch tip that is not flowering. Immediately place the cutting into a container of water to keep it hydrated.

Add soilless potting mix into a flower pot that is 4 inches wide with drainage holes. A larger planting container will encourage mildew growth over the excess potting medium. Mildew will kill your euonymus cutting. Soak the potting medium thoroughly. Soilless potting mix is found in most nurseries and garden centers and is used specifically for rooting and starting seeds. It is sterile, holds moisture well and contains a small amount of fertilizer that cannot burn the tender roots of seedlings and cuttings.

Take the euonymus cutting in one hand and clip off the bottom 2 inches with the pruning tool. Make sure the cutting is upright. Cut just below a leaf node or an area where a leaf is growing. Then, with your free hand, pull off the bottom leaves from the cutting using a downward motion that creates a small wound where the leaf was growing. Leave the top two or three leaves and the cluster of leaves at the top of the cutting.

Dip the entire bottom half of the cutting in the powdered rooting hormone, covering the cut end and all the wounds left when you removed the bottom leaves. Push your finger into the potting mix to create a hole for the cutting and place the cutting in the hole without scraping off the powdered rooting hormone. Gently push the potting medium around the cutting with your fingers so it has contact with the lower portion of the cutting and the cutting remains upright. Add a little water around the cutting to settle the potting mixture around the cutting.

Make a small wire frame over the pot and place a clear plastic bag over the wire so the cutting and pot is covered and the humidity level remains high around the cutting. Don’t allow the plastic bag to have contact with the cutting.

Place in a warm bright location, but not in direct sun. Keep the potting mixture around the cutting moist. Don’t allow the foliage on the stem to get wet while adding water or it will mildew. The cutting should begin to root and actively grow in about eight weeks.


Euonymus japonicus

Duranta Sheenas Gold (back) with Euonymus japonicus Aureus

These shrubs, the species of which hail from Japan, are excellent choices for Sydney gardens, as they look good every day of the year and get better and better as each year passes. Shrubby Euonymus japonicus ‘Aureus’ (ht 1.5 m ) is one of my all-time favourite stalwart shrubs, with its glossy yellow and green leaves. It will grow in full sun or light shade and needs little attention once established, and will tolerate dry spells. I have also seen this shrub labelled as Euonymus japonicus ‘Mediopictus’.

It looks effective grown near to golden foliage shrubs such as the Duranta shown in the photo above. I also like to grow yellow flowers nearby to echo the variegation of its leaves: Reinwardtia indica – sometimes known as linum, is a pretty, winter-flowering small shrub that is a perfect companion. Yellow jonquils also look effective growing around it.

Euonymus japonicus Albomarginatus

A white-variegated version that I have is called ‘Albomarginatus’ and it is also a very good shrub, especially for partly shaded areas of the garden. It can be grown with shade-loving white-flowered plants such as white Justicia carnea or white cane Begonia to echo its leaf variegation. Keep an eye out for branches of Euonymus japonicus cultivars that revert to all-green leaves: remove these to keep the variegation strong – otherwise these vigorous all-green shoots, which contain more chlorophyll, will take over the plant. I also trim off any untidy stems in late winter and feed the shrubs at the same time with a general purpose food. They can be propagated by cuttings taken in autumn. Euonymus belong to the Celastraceae family of plants.

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