Euonymus Climbing Varieties

The form of euonymus gown on walls is the evergreen E. fortunei also known as winter creeper. Like ivy, it climbs by the roots which appear along its stems, and is so hardy that it is grown as wall cover in parts of the United States where it is too cold for ivy. It has a juvenile and an adult form, also like ivy, but when grown as wall cover, it usually stays in its juvenile form, no flowers or fruits are produced, and it is used for the colour of its foliage. The species plant, which has dark green leaves, grows to a height of 3m (10 ft), but the named cultivars are usually lower growing.

‘Colorata’, which reaches the same height as the species, has unusual foliage that turns purple in winter and changes back to green in spring. ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ and ‘Emerald Gaiety’ are cultivars from the United States, both with green leaves edged with yellow, and are low climbers. ‘Silver Gem’, a good climber, has yellow leaves with silver edges.

Euonymus Climbing Varieties

General care: Plant in April in any ordinary soil. Will tolerate chalk and any aspect. A poor soil often produces better leaf variations and colourings. No pruning is needed, apart from what is necessary to keep the plants going in the right direction. Like ivy, these plants sometimes need some encouragement to start them climbing up the wall.

Propagation: Either soft or semi-hardwood cuttings pulled from the plant in late summer and pushed into a 50-50 peat/sand mixture.

Pests and diseases: Aphids, especially blackfly, can be troublesome and should be sprayed with malathion or a systemic insecticide. Brown spots on the leaves are caused by fungi. Spray with a fungicide.

There are evergreen and deciduous kinds and they serve quite different purposes in the garden; the evergreens being grown for their ornamental foliage and as hedges and screens, particularly in maritime districts, since they withstand salt spray; the deciduous kinds (known as spindle trees) for their highly ornamental fruits and autumn leaf colour. All grow freely in most soils including chalk and limestone, and they will also succeed in sun or shade, though the deciduous kinds colour and fruit best in light places. Evergreen kinds can be pruned in spring as necessary to keep them in bounds and can be clipped in summer if this seems desirable. Deciduous kinds are best pruned in March when old stems can be cut out or shortened to younger replacement stems.

Euonymus fortunei is an evergreen, trailing or climbing according to situation and able to cling to tree trunks, walls, etc. with aerial roots. It has several varieties such as coloratus, green leaved in summer, purple in winter; radicans, with small green leaves; Silver Queen, bushy in habit, with a wide cream edge to every leaf, and variegatus, leaves grey green, edged with white and often splashed with pink.

E. japonicus is the kind commonly used for hedges and screens, a bushy evergreen which can reach 20 ft. but can be kept to a quarter of that height by pruning. Typically dark shining green, it also has variegated varieties such as aureopictus (sometimes called aureus) with a splash of gold in the centre of each leaf, and ovatus aureus (also called aureo-variegatus) with a cream margin to each leaf. Microphyllus (also known as myrtifolius) is very slow growing, compact and has small green leaves.

Good deciduous kinds are E. europaeus and E. latifolius, both with scarlet fruits, and E. yedoensis with rose-pink fruits. Most have orange seeds which show prominently as the fruits ripen, and all can grow to loft, or more. E. alatus has the most brilliantly coloured autumn foliage and will reach 8 ft.


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