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Wintercreeper Euonymus

Outstanding Features

  • Evergreen foliage of varying color, depending on cultivar.
  • Varied growth habit, depending on location and cultivar. Some forms grow to 6" high when left to sprawl on the ground or to 30 to 40' high when given support on which to climb. Other cultivars are more shrub-like.
  • Easy to grow, transplants readily.
  • Fast growing.
  • Once established, will tolerate dry conditions.

Landscape Use

  • Used as groundcover, low hedging, vine, wall covering, in massing and groupings. Usage dependent on cultivar and location.
  • Foliage color useful for accent in the rock garden or mixed border.

Cultural Requirements

  • Adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions except extremely wet conditions. Prefers an acid loam soil, but will tolerate a wide range of pH conditions.
  • Adaptable to full sun or heavy shade. Golden-leaved cultivars prefer full sun or medium shade.
  • Extensive pruning not required, although old shoots should be removed periodically to rejuvenate. Euonymus fortunei, like Hedera helix, has a highly variable flowering adult form which can be very different from its non-flowering juvenile form. Pruning out old shoots will maintain the more desirable juvenile characteristics.

Key Pests


  • Crown gall


  • Scale

Euonymus fortunei is susceptible to numerous other diseases and insect pests which are less common.

Common Cultural Problems

  • Declines in heavy, wet soils.
  • Some cultivars are sensitive to low-temperature injury (windburn) in zone 4.

Selected Varieties and Cultivars

var. coloratus - A vigorous groundcover form with deep glossy green summer foliage turning plum-purple in winter. This variety is highly variable, with many different clones offered in the trade. Best effect is achieved if grown on drier, starved soils. One of the fastest growing varieties.

'Emerald Beauty' - Grows to 6' in height and 8-10' in spread. Dark green foliage all year.

'Emerald Delight' - Has the largest leaves of any in Emerald series. Rich foliage color; young leaves light green edged with yellow, becoming intense green with creamy borders. A vigorous spreading plant.

'Emerald Gaiety' - Small, erect form with dense branching. Leaves are rounded, deep green with an irregular white margin; the margin becomes pinkish in winter.

'Emerald 'n Gold' - Low growing, 18 to 24" high, with a tight branching habit. Foliage a dark glossy green with yellow margins. Leaves turn pink-red in winter.

'Gold Spot' - Dark green leaves with bright gold centers. More upright in habit than most.

'Green Lane' - Upright growing with green foliage all year. Matures to 4' by 6'. Less prone to winter windburn than other green-leaved forms.

'Kewensis' - A low mat, only several inches high, but an excellent climbing form. Leaves slender, small and dainty, almost round. A very prostrate form with slender, spreading branches, forming a small hummock. Good for the rock garden.

'Silver Queen' - Leaves creamy yellow in spring, becoming green with a creamy white margin through summer. Smaller than average.

'Variegatus' - A small-leaved variety with grey-green foliage, margined white, tinged pink in cold weather. Best as a climbing form or groundcover.

There are at least 30 other named cultivars and a great deal of confusion in identification. Euonymus fortunei is prone to development of branch mutations with varying types of foliage variegation. Thus the same cultivar, propagated by different growers, may not always look the same.

Revised: 09/2011