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TREES & Plants

Wintercreeper

Wintercreeper is a fast growing, versatile ground cover.  Many different cultivars are available.  Wintercreeper should be used with care as it is considered invasive in some locations.

Botanical name: 
Euonymus fortunei
All Common Names: 
Wintercreeper, Wintercreeper euonymus
Family (English): 
Staff-tree
Family (Botanic): 
Celastraceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Ground cover
  • Shrub
  • Vine
Foliage: 
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Dry sites
  • Occasional drought
  • Alkaline soil
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Size Range: 
  • Medium plant (12-24 inches)
  • Small plant (6-12 inches)
  • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)
Shape or Form: 
  • Creeping
Landscape Uses: 
  • Foundation
Time of Year: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
More Information: 

Size and Form

6 to 12 inches high as a ground cover; up to 2 to 3 feet high as mounded shrubs; spreads 40 to 50 feet wide

Tree & Plant Care

Avoid wet sites
This species has become invasive in some areas

Disease, pests, and problems

Euonymus scale is a common and serious insect problem
Crown gall (bacterium) is also very serious

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite, evergreen leaves; oval shape with toothed margins; 1 inch long

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous and occurring only on adult forms

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Pinkish red capsules that open to reveal seeds with an orange coating (aril)

Cultivars and their differences 

Baby Wintercreeper  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Minimus’):  1 to 1½ feet wide and 6 feet wide; leaves are smaller that those of the species (1/4 to 1/2 inch long)

Big-leaved  Wintercreeper  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Vegetus’):  2 to 4 feet high and up to 6 wide; creeping form with bright-green leaves; very cold hardy but also very susceptible to scale.

Canadale Gold  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Canadale Gold’): Compact, irregular, mounded form with spreading stems;  leaves are glossy green with golden-yellow margins

Emerald Gaiety  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’):  3 to 4 high and 4 to 5 feet wide; dark green leaves with white margins; leaves take on a reddish tinge in winter

Emerald ‘n’ Gold  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’):  3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide; bright-green leaves with broad golden margins; leaf color is best in full sun; leaves take on a reddish tinge in winter

Glossy Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Carrierei’):  Can grow 6 8 feet high and wide; irregular, mounded form with spreading stems; deep-green leaves and abundant, showy fruits are about 1/3” in diameter, with greenish-red covers that open up when ripe to expose yellow-orange seeds

Gold Prince  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Gold Prince’): 3 feet high and wide; bright-green young leaves variegated with bright golden tips, aging to solid green; very hardy cultivar

Moonshadow  Little-leaved Wintercreeper  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Moonshadow’):  2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 5 feet high; variegated leaves,  glossy green margins and bright-yellow centers

Purple leaved Wintercreeper  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’): 1 to 1½ feet high and 6 wide;  leaves are  glossy green (with purplish undersides), but turn purple in late autumn and winter

Sarcoxie  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Sarcoxie’): 4 to 5 feet high and wide; dark green leaves with whitish veins

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) 'Candale Gold'photo: John Hagstrom
                                                     
Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) 'Coloratus'photo: John Hagstrom

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), 'Emerald Gaiety'photo: John Hagstrom
                                                                
Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), 'Moonshadow'photo: John Hagstrom