Kochia grown from Burning Bush seeds, this feathery bush is pale green in the summer, but then transforms to an intense red in the fall. Kochia Trichophylla Burning Bush is symmetrical and oval in form and makes an outstanding foliage plant. The Kochia bush is truly one of a kind and brings a great addition to the flower garden. It reaches 28 inches in height and looks great when grown as a hedge along the border or in groups of 3 for focal interest.
Common name: Burning Bush, Fireball, Belvedere, Mexican Fireweed, Green Molly, Rusty Molly, Hairy Smotherweed, Forage Kochia, Summer cypress.
Color: Light green, white. Hairy flowers that sprout from strap shaped leaf axils.
Bloom time: Summer
Height: 15 to 36 inches (40 to 90 cm).
Difficulty level: Easy
Planting & Care
For areas with a long growing season, Kochia Burning Bush seeds can be started directly outdoors in a prepared seed bed. For earlier Kochia plants, start the Burning Bush seeds indoors. Transplant outdoors after danger of frost has passed. Plant the Kochia Burning Bush in full sun.
Temperature: 61 - 65F
Average Germ Time: 10 -14 days
Light Required: Yes
Depth: Surface sow and do not cover
Sowing Rate: 4 - 5 seeds per plant
Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination
Plant Spacing: 24 - 36 inches
Sunlight: Full sunlight.
Soil: Kochia is well adapted to alkaline soils, but it is not known how well it does on acid soils. Therefore, lime to a pH of 6.0; or try liming to different pH levels and observe the performance at each.
Water: Keep well watered. Mulch helps keep roots cool and moist during hot weather.
Fertilizer: Regular feeds of nitrogen containing fertilizer in the summer.
Harvesting: Harvest when heads have reached full size but before they loosen. For complete growing instructions of each vegetable in the Brassicas family, please see our individual growing guides below.
- Kochia is well adapted to alkaline soils, but it is not known how well it does on acid soils.
- Therefore, lime to a pH of 6.
- 0; or try liming to different pH levels and observe the performance at each.
- Because kochia is not a legume, nitrogen needs to be applied in proportion to the amount removed.
- This amount to 40 to 60 lb N/ton of hay removed, or 100 to 250 lb N/acre.
- Do not apply more than 150 lb N/acre in one application, or nitrate toxicity can result.
- Apply 50 to 100 lb/acre prior to planting, and top dress the remainder later in the season based on anticipated yield.
- Kochia responds very little to phosphorus and is low in this element.
- Cattle grazing on kochia should be fed supplemental phosphorus.
- Under conditions of adequate moisture, high phosphorus, zinc and boron levels suppress yield.
- The use of manure to supply nitrogen will likely result in excess phosphorus.
- Because the potash requirements of kochia are not known, adjust soil K to a medium level.
- Experiment with additional potash to find a rate suitable for your growing conditions.
- Suggested rates are 24 to 50 lb K2O/ton of hay harvested.
Kochia is grown as a forage crop for sheep and cattle and as an ornamental.
Oxalate levels for kochia range from 6 to 9%. Feeding calcium phosphate and other kinds of feed (such as alfalfa) tends to reduce oxalate toxicity. Animals with symptoms of oxalate toxicity should be removed from kochia immediately.
Kochia can be used in revegetation programs for erosion control. It will germinate and grow at any time in the growing season, and it thrives in sandy, alkaline and other poor soils. Kochia can be sown by airplane on large areas that need revegetation, such as areas that have been devastated by fire. It provides a quick groundcover to protect topsoil and provide a food source for wildlife until native grasses take over.