Kochia scoparia grass zones

Burning Bush Kochia Scoparia Seeds

Burning Bush Kochia Scoparia is a vigorous annual that is mostly grown for its unique foliage. Burning Bush seeds can be started indoors or directly outdoors after last frost. Also called Summer Cypress or Mexican Fireweed this ornamental, shrubby annual grows upright and features rounded, symmetrical, cone-like growth habit. Kochia Scoparia produces feathery green foliage that changes its color to intense red in late summer and early fall.
Burning Bush is an outstanding foliage plant that makes superb accent in any garden. Kochia is a popular ornamental flower for bordering, container planting, hedging and screening. Kochia Scoparia seeds need light to germinate, so the surface sowing is required. The established Burning Bush grows best in full sun and dry or moist soil with good drainage provided, and Summer Cypress self-sows itself freely for the next season appearance.

Season: Annual
Height: 28 Inches
Bloom Season: Summer/Fall
Environment: Sun/Partial Shade
Soil Type: Average/Dry/Moist well-drained, pH 6.0
USDA Zones: All Regions of North America

Sow Indoors: Spring (4-6 weeks before last frost)
Sow Outdoors: Spring
Seed Depth: Surface sowing – press seeds slightly into the soil
Germination Time: 10-15 Days

Kochia Plant Info: Learn About Kochia Burning Bush And Its Management

Kochia scoparia grass (Kochia scoparia) is an attractive ornamental plant or a troublesome invasive species, depending on a number of factors, including your geographic location and your purpose for growing the plant. If this has piqued your curiosity, keep reading for more detailed kochia plant info.

Kochia Plant Info

So what is Kochia? Kochia scoparia grass is also known as fireweed or kochia burning bush for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is the flaming red color that the plant takes on in autumn. The second reason for the fiery references is not so benign – when the kochia grass dries and turns into a tumbleweed, it is extremely flammable.

Kochia burning bush was introduced to the United States by European immigrants who hoped to bring a touch of home into their new environment. Unfortunately, like many non-native species, kochia soon escaped its boundaries and became highly invasive.

Kochia puts down roots in poor, rocky soil, creating huge problems in the arid grasslands, prairies and scrublands of the northern and western United States and Canada. It tends to take over along roadsides and in pastures. In fact, it is a useful plant in burned or damaged areas, as it establishes quickly and stabilizes the soil.

Cattle, sheep and horses love kochia, which tastes much like alfalfa. However, the plant is toxic and can cause kidney and liver failure in animals that eat large quantities. The plant is useful as long as livestock growers manage the plant carefully so it is never the sole source of forage.

However, keeping Kochia scoparia grass from running rampant isn’t an easy task. If you’re a denizen of prairie and desert regions, you’re familiar with tumbling tumbleweeds that occur when kochia dries and breaks off at the base of the plant. As the dry skeleton tumbles, it spreads thousands of seeds far and wide. Additionally, the sturdy roots can grow 10 feet into the soil in search of water.

Kochia Control

Preventing development of seedheads is the first step in kochia control. The plant must be mowed frequently so it never grows beyond 18 to 26 inches.

Kochia control may also involve use of pre-emergent herbicides, which provide control before seedlings emerge, or a post-emergent herbicide that controls the plant after seedlings emerge and are less than 4 inches tall. Many people mix pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides to provide more complete control.

Don’t apply herbicides unless you are sure the chemicals are registered for control of kochia scoparia grass. Complicating the matter even more is the fact that kochia is resistant to some herbicides, including 2,4-D. This is a good time to seek the advice of your local Agricultural Extension Agent.

If you can manage kochia for two or three years and prevent it from going to seed, you may win the battle; the seeds hiding in the soil are relatively short-lived.

Kochia Scoparia Grass Australia

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Kochia (Bassia scoparia)

Kochia is an erect annual shrub previously grown as an ornamental hedge plant and salt-tolerant fodder crop, but now present as a widespread and troublesome agricultural weed.


How does this weed affect you?

Kochia is an erect annual shrub native to eastern Europe and western Asia. It has been grown as an ornamental hedge because of its dense conical shape and attractive colour in autumn, and has also been used as a fodder crop in salt-affected areas, but has since escaped cultivation and become a widespread and troublesome agricultural weed.

Kochia is resistant to insect attack, toxic to livestock and able to spread rapidly over long distances. It produces alleleopathic compounds that inhibit the growth of nearby plants.

In Australia it has the potential to infest pastures, crops, roadsides, railway lines and amenity areas. Once the plant gets into paddocks, it will significantly reduce pasture and crop production.

The subspecies Bassia scoparia subspecies trichophylla (commonly known as summer cypress or burning bush) is not declared, and can still be found in older gardens.

Where is it found?

Kochia is naturalised throughout Europe and parts of temperate Asia. It is recorded as a weed in Argentina, Canada and the United States.

Kochia was introduced to Western Australia in 1990 as a fodder plant for salt-affected land, but was since eradicated when its weedy potential in Australian conditions was recognised. It appeared in Tasmania as a contaminant of carrot seed in 1995, 1997 and 1998. All infestations have been eradicated and previously infested areas are checked annually.

Kochia is not known to be present in New South Wales (NSW).

Distribution map

  • NSW (image)

How does it spread?

Kochia reproduces by seed only. The species typically produces around 14 000 seeds per plant in late summer. Seeds are dispersed in autumn when the plant becomes a ‘tumbleweed’. Dead plants break off at ground level and are blown large distances by the wind. The tumbleweed habit is capable of spreading seeds up to a kilometre from where the plant was growing. Seeds appear to have a relatively short life in the soil, mostly germinating in spring or as suitable conditions allow.

What does it look like?

Kochia grows from 20–150 cm tall. It usually has a main stem that bears many upwardly-curving branches giving the plant a dense, conical appearance.

Key identification features

  • Leaves are flat and alternate, up to 5 cm long and 8 mm wide, with three longitudinal veins on the underside. Leaves are usually without petioles (leaf stems) and often have hairy margins. The young shoots are usually hairy.
  • Flowers are small and indistinct, located towards the tips of the branches.
  • Fruit are small (2 mm across), star-shaped and contain a single seed.

As the plant ages, its colour often changes from green to pale yellow, pink and then to rusty brown.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Kochia is able to grow in a wide range of soil types, and is drought tolerant.


Written by Jeff Burton 2003; 2012 edition reviewed by Michael Michelmore.
Edited and prepared by Elissa van Oosterhout.

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You must report this plant if you see it anywhere in NSW. Call the helpline listed above. Help will then be provided to remove and destroy it. This serious weed could spread if control efforts do not follow all protocols. Not reporting it is a breach of your legal biosecurity duty.

Herbicide options

Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Starane™)
Rate: 500 mL to 1 L per 100 L water
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 300 to 600 mL per 100 L water
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: One part product to 50 parts water
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: One part product to 9 parts water
Comments: Splatter gun
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Brush-off®)
Rate: 10 – 20 g per 100 L water plus surfactant
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
All of NSW Prohibited Matter
A person who deals with prohibited matter or a carrier of prohibited matter is guilty of an offence. A person who becomes aware of or suspects the presence of prohibited matter must immediately notify the Department of Primary Industries
Excluding the subspecies trichophylla

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to [email protected]

Reviewed 2018

Easy to Grow Foliage Plant: Kochia Scoparia (Summer Cypress)

Kochia scoparia or Summer Cypress (Buy seeds online) is a hardy and drought-tolerant foliage plant grown as ornamental as well as forage plant. It is a quick growing plant that tends to form rounded or pyramid body of dense leaves and branches. Young plants of Kochia are bright green and color but turn red in colder climate as they mature. Thin and finely cut leaves of Kochia add to its ornamental value. It is useful as accent plant in landscapes and grows in almost any soil (rich, sandy, alkaline, poor etc.) except very acidic conditions. For this reason, Kochia is sometimes grown at mass level to control soil erosion, and for reclamation or re-vegetation of land.

Kochia scoparia can spread very quickly and become invasive in warm and dry climates where it breaks off from the base and is blown by winds as a tumbleweed. In landscapes and gardens, it can be contained by frequent trimming especially before formation of seed heads in spring.

Kochia Scoparia contains higher levels of protein and oxalate than most grasses and fodder plants, thus it also serves as a forage crop for livestock. However, high intake of Kochia scoparia can be toxic for most animals therefore it should be used sparingly and mixed with other forage plants .

Kochia Scoparia, Image by Shin Kusano

How to Grow Kochia

Kochia is fairly easy to grow and does not have any special requirements. Propagated from seeds, Kochia requires bright sunlight and moderate water.

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