The flowering bush diptam exerts a fascinating attraction on hobby gardeners who like to move on unusual paths in the cultivation of ornamental plants. The Dictamnus albus is not only an absolute rarity among the wild perennials, but also scores with unique attributes. These include an enchanting habit, a bewitching scent and a pleasant unpretentiousness. On warm summer evenings, the ornamental plant shines in a magical light as if by magic. It owes its name Burning Bush to the fact that in hot periods a match is enough to let blue flames blaze up. The following lines explain what care the rhombus plant expects and how the propagation takes place.


  • Plant family of the rue family (Rutaceae).
  • Native to Central Europe.
  • Height of growth 80 cm to 100 cm in upright habit.
  • White-pink flower clusters from May to July.
  • Intense scent of vanilla and lemons.
  • Dark green foliage, multipinnate.
  • Dark red, delicate capsule fruits after flowering.
  • Hardy to -20° Celsius.
  • Flammable in heat and toxic in all parts.
  • Common names: Ashroot, Burning Bush.

The wild perennial was placed under nature protection as early as 1936, because the diptam was considered a rarity right from the start. Thanks to this measure, the magical flowering bush could be saved from extinction. Today, ambitious hobby gardeners also make a significant contribution to preservation by planting Ashbur in their green realm.

location and soil conditions

When choosing the location, a gardener should think a little more than is generally the case. A diptam will thrive if left alone over the years and not subjected to the stress of transplanting. A look at its natural occurrence provides information about where the ornamental shrub feels most comfortable. It thrives lavishly on dry meadows, open spaces with a typical heath character, along sunny woody edges and in classic wild perennial borders.

  • Sunny, preferably sheltered position.
  • A warm place in the penumbra is tolerated.
  • Dry, calcareous soil, well drained.

In principle, a burning bush is suitable as a container plant, provided that it is assigned a suitable location and a pot of at least 125 liters. If, after some time, you have to change to a larger planter because the previous pot is completely rooted, there is a risk that the diptam will no longer grow.

watering and fertilizing

The demands on the location already indicate how the water and nutrient balance should be in order to offer a Dictamnus albus ideal growth conditions.

  • Water only if it is dry for a long time.
  • Do not water over flowers and leaves.
  • Good garden compost is sufficient to start with in the spring.

In this case, the experienced hobby gardener does without the distribution of mulch, because the ash root does not like permanently moist soil. Only spraying the soil with nettle manure is acceptable if no compost is available as fertilizer.

To cut

Since the diptam has by no means revealed its entire decorative potential after flowering, a knowledgeable hobby gardener will be careful not to grab the scissors at this point. Rather, it is not time for a cut until the following spring. Until then, the opulent wild perennial will delight you with pretty clusters of fruit in autumn and serve as a distinctive eye-catcher throughout the winter when it is covered with glittering frost.

  • Do not cut Diptam until next spring before the new shoots.
  • Shorten shoots to 20 cm above the ground.
  • Thin out dead wood and diseased branches close to the ground.

Anyone who cuts the ash root according to this requirement also strengthens the winter hardiness to such an extent that further protection is not required. The birds wintering in the garden also appreciate the seed pods as a vital source of food.


Once a diptam has conquered the heart of the gardener, the propagation procedure will quickly become the focus of interest. There are several methods to choose from, each with a different level of difficulty.


Probably the most uncomplicated way of propagation is by dividing the rhizome. In the first two years, however, this is not yet developed strongly enough to cope with such a procedure.

  • In spring, after cutting back, dig up the diptam widely.
  • Split the rhizome with a sharp spade.
  • Each piece has at least one, better two buds.
  • Plant without delay in the new location just as deep as before.

Since the cuts could open the floodgates to fungi, viruses, and pests, it’s a good idea to seal them with charcoal ash.


Propagation by sowing is much more difficult, time-consuming and risky. The seeds are cold germs, the treatment of which requires a certain amount of experience. Without stratification, i.e. a cold stimulus lasting several weeks, followed by a warm period, the diptam seeds cannot be encouraged to germinate. If the cultivation actually succeeds, patience is required again, because it sometimes takes 3 to 4 years until the first flowering. If you want to face the challenge regardless, proceed as follows.

  • Plant the seeds in seed soil at least 1 cm deep in late autumn.
  • Place on a trellis in the partially shaded part of the garden.
  • The natural frost provides the necessary cold stimulus.
  • A snow cover is an advantage, otherwise water regularly.
  • Germination begins in spring as temperatures rise.

Alternatively, the seed container can be placed in a cold frame without manure packing under the ground, because there is better protection against pests. In this case, regular watering is a must. When the young Dictamnus albus have reached a height of approx. 10 cm and – in addition to the cotyledons – have 3 to 4 true leaves, they are pricked out and further cultivated in individual pots.

In view of the mild winters in recent years, a hobby gardener cannot be sure that a six to eight-week cold period will affect the seeds outdoors. Stratification under controlled conditions offers a solution to the problem. For this purpose, embed the seeds in moist sand, fill them in transparent bags and store them in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator at 0° to 4° Celsius for 2 months. The deep freeze is not a good place because the extreme sub-zero temperatures rupture the cell walls when the seed is taken out. The further steps of cultivation can be done in pots on the balcony, if it is not desired that the sowing besieged the windowsill for 1 year.

Direct sowing in the bed has the advantage that repeated repotting is unnecessary, to which the small plants can react quite sensitively. A disadvantage is that sufficient protective measures must be taken to protect against voracious garden dwellers.

Tip: Since the diptam is the only one of its kind, the fruits can be easily collected in late summer to remove the seeds for sowing. The fresher their condition when used, the better the chances of success.


Autumn or spring is the time to plant wild perennials, such as ash root. The bed is thoroughly raked and cleaned of weeds, roots or stones. In order to promote permeability and the lean, gravelly soil, some sand is worked in if necessary. During this work, the young plants that are still potted stand in a bowl of water so that the root ball can soak up water.

  • Dig planting holes about 50 cm apart.
  • Mix the excavation with some compost as a starter fertilizer.
  • Lay drainage in moist soil at the bottom of each planting pit.
  • Plant and water the potted Dictamnus albus.

A pruning of the plant is just as little necessary as the pruning of the shoots, since the stems do not branch anyway, but always sprout directly from the rhizome.

diseases and pests

With good care, a burning bush proves to be extremely resistant to diseases and pests. An animal glutton that hardly spares a garden can cause great damage, especially to young plants: the slug. From spring to autumn, the mollusks come out at dusk to feed on the delicate leaves and flowers. This is how the troubled hobby gardener defends himself:

  • Provided young diptam with a snail collar.
  • Surround the bed with a snail fence and place a beer trap in it.
  • In the morning, collect the rigid snails from the underside of the leaves.
  • Scatter a ring barrier out of ground coffee, sawdust or grit.
  • Set up crevice traps with slug pellets laid out in them.

Indian runner ducks are a demonstrably efficient method of combating them. Wherever these cute, flightless ducks are, snails don’t stand a chance. However, species-appropriate husbandry is only possible if there is a pond on the site and a small stable as a retreat.

Planting ideas with diptam

A magical and rare perennial such as the diptam should be individually staged in the visual appearance of the garden. Since a burning bush is just as suitable as a solitary plant as in a group, there are no limits to the gardener’s imagination when it comes to emphasizing the enchanted flair of the ornamental perennial. The Aschwurz comes into its own along dark trees when it celebrates its mystical play of lights in front of this backdrop. In the middle of a lawn, the wild perennial attracts attention with its flowers and serves as a distinctive ice sculpture in winter. Thanks to a growth height of 100 cm and more, the diptam is ideal as a flowering hedge; without a privacy function, but as a scaffolding in a natural garden. The question still arises

  • Irises (irises)
  • Edeldisteln (Eryngium)
  • Gamander (Teucrium)
  • Sage (Salvia)

A harmonious plant community forms a burning bush with ornamental grasses such as blue marram grass (Ammophila breviligulata), prairie whisker (Andropogon scoparius) or diamond grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha).

At the feet of the Dictamnus albus, steppe spurge (Euphorbia seguieriana ssp) or caraway thyme (Thymus herba-barona) give the plant composition the finishing touch.

The diptam convinces across the board with an elegant, taut habit in opulent fullness. From May onwards, decorative flower clusters appear above the pinnate, dark green leaves, exuding a wonderful fragrance. The high light in the long list of its attributes is undoubtedly its ability to illuminate blue will-o’-the-wisps at dusk on hot summer days. The high content of essential oils even means that a match is enough to let the dictamnus albus burn without it burning. The colloquial term Burning Bush could not have been chosen more appropriately.

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