How to Grow Euonymus fortunei Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Spindle / Winter Creeper

The Euonymus fortunei plant is native to China, Japan, Korea, and SE Asia. It is deemed as a locally invasive plant in many parts of the world, especially the southern USA and Canada where it can aggressively attack forest openings and margins.

Please only grow it in areas where it will not affect the natural habitat and be sure to keep it under control in areas where it the climate enables it to grow aggressively.

There are numerous cultivars that are used as ornamentals in the garden. These have been chosen for their attractive variegated leaves, and for their slower and dwarf or shrub-like growth, which makes them much more suitable for growing in the garden in areas where it may grow aggressively.

Some of the commonly grown cultivars include Moon Shadow, Emerald Surprise, Canadale Gold, Silver Queen, Harlequin, and Emerald Gaiety. Most of the garden Euonymus fortunei garden plants are derived from the variety 'radicans'.

Winter Creeper

Variegated Euonymus fortunei photograph by peganum.

If allowed to grow as a vine some varieties can reach over 66 feet (20 m) in length, but most garden varieties grow as shrubs and typically reach 2 to 4 feet (60 to 120 cm) in length.

It has a similar growing nature as Ivy despite not being related.

Quick Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Euonymus fortunei
  • Common Name (s): Winter Creeper, Spindle, Fortune's spindle, wintercreeper
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): 4 to 9 / H5

Plant Details

  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Garden species tend to be low growing evergreen shrubs; climbing vine; Herbaceous Perennial
  • Plant Height: Typically 6 to 9 inches (15 to 25 cm); shrubs to 3 feet (1 m); vines up to 20 m
  • Plant Spread: Shrubs: 6 inches to 4 feet (15 cm to 1.5 m)
  • Blooms: Mid spring
  • Flower Details: Inconspicuous. pale green-yellow.
  • Leaf Foliages: Opposite. Serrated margins. Leaves are typically dark green, though the range of cultivars often have variegated leaves of yellow / gold and green
  • Fruit: Round. pink to red

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight and partial shade
  • Soil Soil Moisture: Well drained. Moist.
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Spreads vegetatively. Grow in controlled areas/containers. Ideally grow garden specific cultivars that are designed to grow slowly and as dwarfs. Vines set seed easily and may easily grow out of control.

Further Information

  • Best Garden Use: Ground cover, for evergreen color, edging, slope cover to prevent erosion
  • Family: Celastraceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Staff vines and Bittersweets.
  • Miscellaneous: Invasive
  • Further Reading and References used: Wikipedia; Invasive Plants Atlas

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Euonymus fortunei plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ Celastraceae growing guides: How to grow Parnassia plants.