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How to Grow Kochia Plants

Guide to Growing Burning Bush, Fireball, Summer Cypress & Mexican Fireweed

Plants of the Kochia genus are hardy or half hardy annuals. They can that reach from 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 feet) in height.

They have a shrubby nature, and are therefore often used as a hedge plant.

Kochia scoparia

The leaves of Kochia plants are green and lance shaped. These turn red in the autumn, making for an attractive hedging plant.

Burning bush
Kochia scoparia / Burning bush photographs by Matt Lavin; creative commons.

Some of the common names for Kochia include Belvedere, Firebush, Burning bush, and Summer Cypress.

The Kochia genus is now incorporated into the Bassia and Neokochia plant genera.

Commonly Grown Kochia Species Photographs and Plant Identification

kochia scoparia

kochia scoparia
kochia scoparia (Ragweed / Summer Cypress / Burningbush / Mexican Firebrush / Summer Cypress / Burningbush / Mexican Firebrush), photograph by Matt Lavin; CC.

Kochia prostrata

Kochia prostrata syn. Bassia prostrata

Kochia prostrata
Kochia prostrata (Forage Kochia), picture by BLMIdaho; CC.

Kochia Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Burning Bush, Fireball, Belvedere, Mexican Fireweed, Green Molly, Rusty Molly, Hairy Smotherweed, Forage Kochia, Summer cypress.
Syn.: Bassia.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual. Hardy annual.
Height: 15 to 36 inches (40 to 90 cm).
Native: North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10.

Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: Light green, white. Hairy flowers that sprout from strap shaped leaf axils.
Foliage: Lanceolate. Flattened. Green through to red.

Sow Outside: Surface. Before last frost. Spacing: single plants: 20 to 24 inches (60 to 70 cm); hedging 8 inches (20 cm).
Sow Inside: Soak seeds overnight. Use peat pots. Germination time: one to two weeks in the light. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors towards the end of spring.

Requirements: Full sunlight. Soil pH 6 to 7. Average soil. Drought tolerant. Regular feed.
Family: Amaranthaceae.

Miscellaneous: Forms tumbleweeds. Foliage changes colour from bright green in the summer to red in the autumn.
Considered to be noxious and invasive in many places. Seeds are used in Japanese cuisine to produce a garnish called tonburi (Land caviar).

How to Grow Belvedere, Burning Bush and other Kochia Plants

When growing Belvedere and other Kochia plants in the garden, it is best to sow the seeds on the surface. Do this a couple of weeks before the last frost of spring is expected.

They like to grow in sunny areas which have a soil pH of 6 to 7.

If you plan to make a hedge using Belvedere, then line the seedlings up about 20 cm (8 inches) apart.

If you first plan to grow Kochia indoors, then they should be started about two months before they are due to be transplanted outside. Which should be donw towards the end of spring.

You will need to prepare the seeds by imbibing in water for a day. Following this, keep the sown seeds in light, and germinated at 21 to 24 degrees Centigrade (70 to 75°F).

Caring for Kochia plant

Once established Kochia plant members are easy to look after. They require frequent watering, and a few regular feeds of nitrogen containing fertilizer, in the summer.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Kochia plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Amaranthus retroflexusCassia, Hibiscus and Celosia plants.