HARDINESS: Zones 4 to 8
PREFERRED SOIL pH: Neutral to slightly acid
PREFERRED SOIL TYPE: Fertile, well-drained
PREFERRED LIGHT: Sun to partial shade
ATTRIBUTES: Colorful variegated or fall foliage; for beds, groundcover
SEASON OF INTEREST: Spring through fall
FAVORITES: E. alatus, E. japonicus, E. fortunei and their cultivars
QUIRKS: Plants produce best coloration when grown in full sun
GOOD NEIGHBORS: Boxwood, juniper, magnolia, wax myrtle
WHERE IT GROWS BEST: In sun and fertile soil
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: Rare for winged euonymus; scale and powdery mildew on other species
PRUNING: Prune in early spring to remove diseased stems and rejuvenate plants
CRITTER RESISTANCE: Good
SOURCE: Nursery plants
DIMENSIONS: E. alatus to 12 ft (3.7 m) tall, 8 ft (2.4 m) wide; E. japonicus to 15 ft (4.6 m) tall, 10 ft (3 m) wide, E. fortuneir 3-10 ft (1-3 m) tall and wide
Euonymus in the Landscape
A number of very different shrubs, with different uses in the landscape, are known by the common name of euonymus. Winged euonymus (Euonymus olatus), so named because of the winglike ridges on the woody stems, is a stiff, vaselike shrub that can reach 12 ft (3.7 m) tall and 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m) wide. Sometimes called burning bush because of its intense red fall foliage, this naturally neat plant is a fine choice for boundary plantings or a dense hedge that never needs pruning. To make the color really glow,
plant winged euonymus against an evergreen background, which will also highlight its bare winter silhouette. It is hardy to Zone 4.
Evergreen euonymus (E. japonicus) is a 15 ft (4.6 m) tall shrub with large, lustrous leaves. Hardy to Zone 7, it is popular in warm climates for foundation plantings and specimens in beds. Wintercreeper (E. fortunei) is a low-growing or vinelike shrub often used as groundcover or allowed to creep up walls or fences. Bushy varieties reach 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m), and the stems of vining types can grow to 10 ft (3m). Hardy to Zone 4, and usually evergreen in Zones 6 to 8, this plant has waxy leaves that stand out against junipers and other green conifers.
All in the Family
'Compactus' is a smaller, more globe-shaped version of winged euonymus, though it is hardly compact at 10 ft (3 m) tall. It has purplish red fall foliage, while the leaves of 'October Glory' are an even brighter crimson than those of the species.
Evergreen euonymous offers a number of variegated cultivars. The leaves of 'Aureus' are splashed boldly with gold, those of 'Silver King' are edged in white, and 'Tricolor' has yellow leaves marked with green and pink. 'Microphyllus', called box-leaf euonymus, has the narrow leaves and compact habit of a boxwood.
Wintercreeper also offers colorful cultivars. 'Emerald n Gold' has leaves variegated in green and deep yellow, while 'Emerald Gaiety' has silver-rimmed leaves.The leaves of 'Coloratus' turn purplish red in fall.
Set out purchased plants in early spring, in holes twice as wide and deep as the plant's nursery container.
Work a 2 in (5.1 cm) layer of compost into each hole to improve drainage, set plants in, fill around them and water well. Euonymus transplant with ease and should show new growth within a few weeks of planting.
Winged euonymus rarely has problems of any kind. Other euonymus can be damaged by scale, which are tiny immobile sap-sucking insects that congregate on stems and leaf undersides. Spray infested plants with dormant oil applied in the winter as directed by the label. In damp areas, euonymus can contract powdery mildew, a disfiguring fungal disease that deposits white, powdery patches on leaves. Severely prune plants in late winter or early spring to control it.