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Garden Q&A: Replacing colorful but invasive plants and just how tall could that fiddle leaf fig grow

High bush blueberry is a good native substitute for invasives such as euonymus. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun
High bush blueberry is a good native substitute for invasives such as euonymus. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun(Ellen Nibali / HANDOUT)

It’s easy to see some red shrubs in the woods now, because they are the only thing that still has leaves. I have loved my burning bush’s color and resisted replacing it, even though this euonymus is listed as invasive. But, now I see these red shrubs. Are they euonymus? What can I replace them with that has beautiful red fall color?

Many invasive plants are the last to stop growing in fall — and the earliest to leaf out in spring. Their extended growing season gives them an advantage.

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Fortunately, Asian euonymus are not hard to kill. Replace with native shrubs with fabulous reds such as the high bush blueberry pictured. (Plant several varieties for good berry production.)

For color closest to burning bush, try black or red chokeberry. (Formerly called Aronia melanocarpa or A. arbutifolia, now Photinia.) Select a variety known for good color. Another spectacular fall shrub is fothergilla. For a shorter option, Gro-Low sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’) only reaches 2-3 feet and spreads to make a great ground cover, too.

We were told our fiddle leaf fig would grow 3 feet tall, but it shows no sign of stopping. How much taller should we expect? Can I remove the bottom leaves to make a “tree” effect? How long can it stay in the original 12 inch pot?

Fiddle leaf figs can grow up to 10 feet and, yes, you can remove lower leaves for more of a tree effect. Fig houseplants, in general, like a slightly cramped root system. The pot should look a bit too small. Repot into a pot that is only one size larger, when you see roots coming out of the drainage hole or a network of fine roots on the soil’s surface. Repot in spring.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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