Burning Bush is an warm weather shrubby annual that is native to temperate Asia that can commonly be found growing in prairies, grasslands, and deserts throughout the United States. At maturity, this plant reaches the height of 28” and features branches of feathery green foliage that turns an intense red during late summer and early fall. This plant can be grown in a container, it provides forage to birds and livestock, it is both edible and medicinal, and it self sows!
Harvesting & Seed Saving
Species: Bassia scoparia
Cultivar: Burning Bush
Also Known As: Bassia scoparia 'Trichophylla', Kochia scoparia var. tricophylla, Kochia tricophylla
Native to: Altay, Amur, Buryatiya, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Cyprus, Hainan, Inner Mongolia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Lebanon-Syria, Manchuria, Mongolia, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Primorye, Qinghai, Sakhalin, South European Russi, Tadzhikistan, Tibet, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuva, Uzbekistan, West Siberia, Xinjiang
Introduced into: Afghanistan, Alabama, Albania, Alberta, Algeria, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, Austria, British Columbia, Bulgaria, California, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Central European Rus, Colorado, Connecticut, Czechoslovakia, Delaware, East Aegean Is., France, Free State, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Irkutsk, Italy, Kansas, Kentucky, Krym, Libya, Louisiana, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Morocco, Myanmar, Nebraska, Nepal, Nevada, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New Zealand South, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Oregon, Pakistan, Palestine, Pennsylvania, Poland, Québec, Rhode I., Romania, Sardegna, Saskatchewan, Sicilia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Spain, Switzerland, Tennessee, Texas, Turkey-in-Europe, Ukraine, Utah, Vermont, Vietnam, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Yugoslavia
Grown as: Annual
Maturity (Blooms): None
Light: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Soil Moisture: Any well- drained, reasonably fertile soil is suitable, pH 6.0
Beneficial Insects?: Yes. It attracts birds.
Containers?: Yes. Grow Burning Bush in rich, well-draining potting soil in a glazed ceramic, plastic or wooden container. Increase the potting soil’s fertility by adding one part worm compost to the mix at planting.
Sow Depth: On soil surface
USDA Zone: 3-11
Produces: upright, shrubby plant with feathery green foliage that turns an intense red during late summer and early fall.
Garden Uses: Beds, borders, cottage gardens, cutting gardens or pots/containers.
Sow your seeds indoors in pots but do not cover them and keep them at the temperature of 61-65 F. Germination time should occur in 10 -14 days. Light is a required and you must keep seeds moist until germination occurs. Set out your transplants when they are large enough to handle.
In the spring, the field where the kochia seeds will be planted should be prepared. The soil should be plowed or disked so that all weeds are removed. An application of nitrogen should be tilled into the soil at a rate of 50 to 100 pounds per acre. Kochia seeds can be broadcast across the field at a ratio of one to four pounds per acre. The seeds can also be planted via the drilling method. Create 36 inch rows across the acre. Plant 1 pound of seed in the row using a standard drill at a depth of 1/4 of an inch below the soil's surface. Avoid planting the kochia seeds too deep. When planted below 3/4 of an inch of soil the seeds will often not emerge at all or the growth rate is poor.
Once the seeds have emerged from the soil, its advisable that the plants be thinned to promote vigorous plant growth. Ideally the seedlings should be thinned to two to ten plants for every square foot of ground.
Kochia plants do not compete well against weeds and grasses. The field where kochia is grown should be kept relatively weed free for optimum growth of kochia plants.
diabetes, mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disorders, and jaundice (Kim et al., 2005; Choi et al., 2002).
The seeds of kochia have also been shown to contain other chemicals that could have beneficial human uses, such as compounds that could be use to treat ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, and some human pathogenic bacteria (Friesen et al., 2009; Goyal and Gupta, 1988; Borrelli and Izzo, 2000).
Kochia scoparia is palatable to all classes of livestock. The nutritional value, when immature, is similar to that of alfalfa (Stubbendieck et al., 2003). Kochia scoparia can be toxic to livestock and may cause death if consumed in large quantities by cattle, sheep, or horses (Sprowls, 1981). Kochia has been known to cause polioencephalomalacia and hotosensitization in range cattle (Dickie and Berryman, 1979). Kochia has been identified as containing saponins, alkaloids, oxalates, and nitrates all of which are toxic substances that seem to be more toxic during times of drought and during seed maturity (Dickie and James, 1983), so caution should be used when using kochia as forage for livestock. It is recommended that kochia forage should consist of not more than 50% of livestock ration (Mir et al., 1991; Saskatchewan Agriculture, 1986). Kochia stands can be grazed by livestock directly but care should be taken to prevent poisoning. Rotational grazing of other crops and not grazing for more than 90-120 days should help prevent poisoning (Undersander et al., 1990). Feeding supplemental phosphorus is recommended for livestock grazing on kochia due to the low amount that is present in the plant (Undersander et al., 1990).
If kochia is cut for hay or silage it should be cut before it has produced seed when it is between 18 – 26 in (45.7 – 66 cm) tall (Undersander et al., 1990). Under irrigated and fertilized conditions kochia could be cut up to four times a year (Foster, 1980). Reports of hay production has varied from 1 ton/acre (2.25 t/ha) (Hanson 1988) to 11.5 ton/acre (26 t/ha) (Foster, 1980) depending on region, moisture, and fertilization.
If it is cut for hay, it will likely need to be crimped and crushed after cutting and is going to take between 10-30 days to cure (Hanson, 1988). Kochia is more resistant to spoiling, even with rain, and can be baled at higher moisture levels than with other crops (Hanson, 1988). If hay is harvested when it is too mature and contains coarse stalks, then bales will need to be processed (i.e. ground) and mixed with other forages for livestock to readily consume it (Hanson, 1988).
Slugs & Snails
To attract Earwigs to your garden you will need to grow: Celery (Apium graveolens), Beets (Beta vulgaris, Cabbages, Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea/Brassica rapa), Cucumber (Cucumis sativus), Dahlia, Carrot (Daucus carota), Carnation (Dianthus), Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), Strawberry (Fragaria ananassa), Hop (Humulus lupulus), Lettuce (Lactuca sativa), Lupin (Lupinus angustifolius), Apple (Malus domestica), Apricot (Prunus armeniaca), Sweet Cherry (Prunus avium), Plum (Prunus domestica), Peach (Prunus persica), European Pear (Pyrus communis), Rhubarb (Rheum hybridum), Roses (Rosa), Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), Potato (Solanum tuberosum), Grapevine (Vitis vinifera), Corn (Zea mays), Zinnia.
Ground Beetles: Prey on Snails, Slugs, Ants, Maggots, Earthworms, Caterpillars, Armyworms, Grubs, Colorado Potato Beetles, and Cutworms.
To attract Ground Beetles to your garden you will need to grow: Evening Primrose, Amaranthus, and Clover.
Kochia seeds contain an oviposition pheromone that can be added as an attractant for mosquito pesticides (Friesen et al., 2009; Whitney et al., 2004).
Erosion Control and Bioremediation: Kochia can be used for control of soil erosion. Undersander et al. (1990) indicated that it is able to survive in a variety of harsh soil conditions, including sandy and alkaline soils. Kochia scoparia is drought, salinity, and grasshopper tolerant and is able to grow in areas with very thin topsoil (Friesen et al., 2009). It is especially suited to arid to semi-arid regions (Friesen et al., 2009). It has the ability to germinate and grow at anytime during the growing season and will provide quick groundcover to protect the topsoil. For large inaccessible areas it can be sown using airplanes, making it ideal for revegetation after a fire.