Kochia scoparia for Container Gardens?

Kochia (Kochia scoparia )

After coming across this image on Pinterest with the note “Kochia, the summer pot plant in India” — I had questions.

First — what is Kochia (never heard of it, have you?).

Second – How do I grow this?  Clearly it is spectacular in that it looks like some sort of highly touchable by-product of the Lorax movie.

And then Third — what is the drawback? (i.e. is it invasive, impossible to grow where I am? impossible to find? etc?).

So here are the answers as best I can find – maybe you know more?

Kochia-trichophylla-Burning-Bush2z (1)

Kochia (Kochia scoparia) also goes by burning bush (but not the same as the one that is illegal in MA – that is Euonymus alata) or fireweed.  The names comes from the spectacular fall color (who hasn’t seen these images on pinterest?).

It is also called ‘poor mans alfalfa’ (which I can understand given the health drawbacks to cattle who are overgrazed on it — according to this article).  But it is prized as an ornamental annual.  Which leads me to my next question — why haven’t I ever seen this in my garden centers? (I’ve got no answer for that one)

Kochia is an annual started from seed — I am buying my test seeds here. (yes, I am giving it a go this year). Have you grown it?  I would love some advice.

So the drawbacks — besides it being a slight misfit, it grows wild across most of the US  – but it is not an all bad (at least according to my reading) weed in the plains states.  From what I can tell it is one of the those plants that with a little management, it can go from marginally bad and annoying to highly useful as a drought and pest resistant feed crop, cover crop or  soil retainer.

But I am more concerned with how it will look in my containers…. and if I am going to start some sort of out of control New England Kochia problem.  Bottom line, I want a fast easy grower (to look just like the India picture) that doesn’t make me into an environmental monster.

I don’t think I’m going to have a problem, at least with that last part. Soils here in my garden are very acidic (and it likes alkaline soil) so I suspect errant seeds are unlikely to go out of control (plus it is already in the wild and it isn’t invasive).   Am I right in my assessment?  Tell me, what do you know about this plant?

images from cnseed and  log house plants

 

Spread the love
  •  
  •  
  • 3
  •  
    3
    Shares

Get My Free Newsletter

Connect with Nature.

Get Inspired.

Make Change.

Laugh.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Join the 10-day Garden Design Challenge

container garden collage by rochelle greayer

Let's get your garden in shape so you can enjoy peaceful & nourishing time in your own piece of the great outdoors.

Sign up below to get started:

rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

10 Comments

  1. Jenn on January 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Wow. I want to know what part of India. Will it cope with the dry heat of the Sonoran desert? Because I LOVE that green…

  2. Jenn on January 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm
  3. Ann of Monona on January 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    A friend who grow it as annual here in Wisconsin did have problems with it reseeding in the following year. Not sure just how weedy it is, but she was not very impressed with it as an ornamental plant.

  4. Clare B on January 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Kochia scoparia (Bassia scoparia, is its new name) is on the federal list of introduced, invasive and noxious weeds for the U.S. (see: http://plants.usda.gov/java/invasiveOne?startChar=B). In NE UT, it basically grew into a tumbleweed-type plant (largest specimens were ~3-4 feet tall and wide). As I recall it’s a tough plant that will grow where few other types of plants grow but grows particularly well in disturbed soils. The more water it gets, the bigger it gets. I don’t recall it turning red; it just browns up into a scratchy ball of stems.
    I wouldn’t say that it is a handsome plant. Although the Pinterest image, with the red plants in a pattern is nice, an individual plant is really not that nice looking.
    I suspect that this plant would take over a container, only leaving space for trailing plants.

  5. Vicki on January 15, 2013 at 10:35 am

    If this is even remotely related to the Kochia that grows in Wyoming I would never plant a single seed. There are very few ways to get rid of it other than pulling ,burning or very specialized herbicides. It reseeds like crazy and is very invasive.

  6. narf7 on January 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I just found this site by hunting for this wonderful plant and I get a wonderful plant AND a wonderful website to put into my rss feed reader at the same time! Who needs to win the lottery 🙂 Cheers for sharing what you know about this incredibly promising plant that I can hopefully source here in Australia 🙂

  7. Paul W on January 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Holy cow! Given some of the comments, I’ll not risk trialing it myself, but if it turns out to play nicely with others in your garden, let us know. I’ve never seen anything like that and, as a grower, that piques my interest! Your post was sent to us by an IGC customer 🙂

  8. Randy on February 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I grew it in my garden as a child (parents gave me and my siblings plots in which to plant flowers and care for them. In the Autumn is was always a spectacular magenta! I’m planning on growing it again this coming year. Anything with seeds can get out of hand if you don’t take care to maintain it.

  9. Mayre on May 14, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Hi all! When growing up I was quite used to seeing the ‘firebush’ in my own backyard. My mom would plant it and they were beautiful colors, from summer to fall and they felt as soft as just a whisp of a feather across your hand. We live in Calgary,AB, Canada and used to short summers. I have no idea where she found the seeds or starter plants – sure wish I did. I have, as yet, been unable to locate them. There was very little ‘spreading’ as I recall.

  10. Joanne on May 29, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Did you ever get the plant to grow or learn anything more about it? If it isn’t invasive it would be a good ground cover to replace the lawn/weeds that we have on a slopping part of our yard. Any update would be appreciated.

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.