Prune Euonymus alatus aka firebush


I have an overgrown shrub that I would like to prune by 1/3 to 1/2 it’s current size – approximately 10 ft high with spread about 6 ft. Can this be done in the fall? How should offering maintain unnatural shape? It is growingThank you.


Thank-you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question.

Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) is a beautiful but extremely vigourous shrub. It will easily reach 15 feet in height and diameter at maturity. You should also be aware that Burning Bush is on the invasive plants list for Ontario due to its tendency to colonize areas via seed production (often carried significant distances by birds) and suckering. Even though garden centres continue to sell Burning Bush, many gardeners are choosing alternative shrubs and some are even digging out existing plants on their property.

If you choose to maintain your shrub, the best time to prune is late winter/early spring, before the leaves bud out. You can reduce the size and density of the shrub by about 1/3 without any ill effect. If you prefer to radically reduce the size of your plant, you can opt for renovation pruning where the plant is cut right back. Both techniques are described in the article below.

Here is some information about the invasive tendencies of Burning Bush:

The following article gives advice on collecting and disposing of seed produced by this invasive shrub. It also explains how to dig out and eradicate the shrub, if you choose to do this.

Good luck with your pruning project.