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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 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 high 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 feet 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 to 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 feet 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