Euonymus Winter Care: Tips On Preventing Winter Damage To Euonymus

Euonymus Winter Care: Tips On Preventing Winter Damage To Euonymus

By: Liz Baessler

The name euonymus encompasses many species, ranging from groundcover vines to shrubs. They are, for the most part, evergreen, and their shrub incarnations are a popular choice in areas that experience harsh winters. Some winters are harsher than others, however, and winter damage to euonymus can seem like a serious blow. Keep reading to learn about euonymus winter care and how to fix winter damage in euonymus.

Winter Desiccation of Euonymus

Euonymus winter damage can be caused by too much heavy snow and ice, which snap branches or bend them out of shape. It can also be caused by temperatures that yo-yo around the freezing point. This can freeze the moisture in the euonymus and promptly rethaw it, causing expansion and possible breakage.

Another serious aspect of euonymus winter damage is desiccation. Throughout the winter, evergreens lose a lot of moisture through their leaves. Euonymus shrubs have shallow root systems, and if the ground is frozen and particularly dry, the roots cannot pick up enough moisture to replace what is lost through the leaves. Biting winter winds carry away even more moisture, causing the leaves to dry out, brown, and die.

How to Fix Winter Damage in Euonymus Shrubs

Euonymus winter care really begins in autumn. Water your plant frequently and thoroughly before the ground freezes to give the roots plenty of moisture to soak up.

If wind is a real problem, consider wrapping your euonymus in burlap, planting other barrier shrubs around it, or even moving it to an area that is more protected from the wind. If the euonymus winter damage has already been dealt, don’t despair! Euonymus shrubs are very resilient, and will often bounce back from damage.

If branches have been bent down by heavy snow, try tying them back in place with string to encourage them to grow back into shape. Even if a lot of the leaves are dry and dead, they should be replaced by new growth without pruning. If you want to prune away dead parts, examine the stems for buds – this is where the new growth will come from, and you don’t want to prune below them.

The best course of action is simply to wait until late spring or even early summer for the plant to recover to the best of its abilities. You may be surprised at what it can spring back from.

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Winter Dessication Of Euonymus - How To Fix Winter Damage In Euonymus Shrubs - garden

By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

A very brilliant plant that makes dreary winter landscapes more cheerful. Creates a single fine specimen. Its low stature makes a fine barrier hedge inside existing gardens or along the perimeter. This hardy shrub is excellent for hot climates with definite winters. The fine texture and size of the plant make for good hedges or screens. May grow into a natural orb or can be sheared into a formal hedge or simple topiary forms. Take advantage of its unique minty character.

Wintercreeper’s scientific name, forutnei, comes from plant explorer Robert Fortune. Its common name derives from its habit of creeping steadily higher and higher as it grows. Wintercreeper can climb up to 40 feet as a juvenile plant if it has support. However, it generally stops creeping once it reaches full maturity. It will spread out as ground cover, or it can be kept trimmed as a shrub about 2 feet tall.

Botanical Name Euonymus fortunei

Common Names Wintercreeper euonymus, Wintercreeper

Plant Type Evergreen shrub

Mature Size Up to 40 feet as a vine usually kept to 2 to 4 feet as a mounding shrub.

Sun Exposure Full sun to part shade

Soil Type Medium moisture, well-drained soil

Soil pH 6.0 to 8.0

Bloom Time April

Flower Color Greenish white (flowers are insignificant)

Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 (USDA)

Native Area Asia


Choosing a site for this tree should allow for its mature height the plant. The canopy tends to grow in a narrow upright shape. Never plant shrubs deeper than planted initially in the pot. Doing so can cause rotting of the stem and death to the tree.

1. Dig a hole 2-3 times the width of the container but the same depth.

2. Check drainage by filling the hole with water. All water should drain away within 12 hours. If not, you have hardpan, and it will need to be penetrated – dig deeper & add a layer of gypsum.

3. Watters “Mulch” – Blend 1 part mulch with two parts soil taken from hole.

4. Score the root ball sides and bottom with a utility knife or pruners.

5. Blend Soil – Mulch – 7-4-4 Plant Food & Aqua Boost mixture, then pack firmly around the rootball.

7. Build a well around the tree and water with “Root & Grow” mixture.

Water with Root & Grow every 2 weeks for the first 2 months.

Wintercreeper thrives in full sun to part shade, but it can tolerate a significant amount of shade.

Wintercreeper proliferates in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil. It prefers alkaline soil but will tolerate many different soil conditions, including compacted soil, various pH levels, and dry (drought) soil conditions. But it does not do well in wet ground.

Water newly planted trees regularly with a garden hose for at least one month (2 months in Summer). Automatic irrigation systems may not be sufficient initially. Water frequency will vary according to the season, exposure, and plant size.

April – Oct this Pine should be irrigated 2 x weekly.

Nov – Mar this Pine should be irrigated 2 x monthly.

Feed 4x Times per Year with either 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food, Soil Sulfur, or Humic. Here’s the recommendation by season:

Spring = 7-4-4 All Purpose Food + Soil Sulfur

Summer = 7-4-4 All Purpose Food + Humic

September = 7-4-4 All Purpose Food

December = 7-4-4 All Purpose Food


Wintercreeper euonymus does well in all climate conditions found in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. In areas with harsh winters, Wintercreeper can suffer some winter damage from ice and dramatic temperature fluctuations. Fortunately, this resilient plant is very good at recovering from the effects of winter.


Pruning can be done either to control the plant’s spread or keep it in the desired shape—such as to keep it in a mounded shape rather than spread as a ground cover. Major pruning should be done after the summer flowering is complete.


Wintercreeper is easily propagated from new-growth cuttings. With sterilized cutting shears, take a 4 to 6 inch length of stem with at least 4 pairs of leaves. Strip off a bottom couple of leaves and place the cutting in moistened Watters Potting Soil. Keep the potting soil moist until roots at least 1 inch long have emerged from the nodes where the leaves were removed, then transplant into a larger pot. Make sure to harden the plant off before transplanting into the garden.


  • ‘Emerald Gaiety’ has green and white leaves.
  • ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ has green leaves with wide yellow margins. It can mound into a shrub 4 to 5 feet in height.
  • ‘Emerald Surprise‘ has green foliage with smaller yellow margins.
  • ‘Canadale Gold’ has glossy leaves with golden margins. It is a mounding form but is also suitable for vine training.
  • Minimus‘ is a small mounding cultivar, growing to only about 18 inches but with a 6-foot spread. Known as “baby wintercreeper,” it has relatively small leaves.
  • Coloratus‘ is known as purple-leaved Wintercreeper. It is a low spreading cultivar with leaves that have purplish color on the undersides.

Euonymum fortunei is considered a toxic plant but is it poisonous only if consumed in large quantities, so there’s no need to be too concerned.

Common Pests/Diseases

One of the most common problems you may face with many types of Euonymus shrub is the Euonymus scale. This armored insect attacks the leaves and stems of infected plants. Treat for scale by pruning off infected branches and/or applying a horticultural oil at the appropriate times of the growing season. This is late May to early June and late July to early August, during the insect’s two hatches.


Follow the steps below to ensure your Euonymus is planted correctly and in the best position:

  • The plant needs some air circulation so although it will thrive against a wall or fence, avoid planting it in the corner of two walls fences.
  • Almost all soil conditions are suitable although don't plant where the ground can become water-logged
  • It can be planted all year long if the soil is not frozen. Mid March to April and mid September to October are the best times to plant this shrub.
  • Dig a hole twice the width of the rootball. Sprinkle in a handful of blood, fish and bone and work into the ground.

  • Place the plant into the hole, filling in with soil so that it is at the same depth as was in the pot. Fill around the rootball and firm the soil down gently but firmly. Water well to settle the surrounding ground around the rootball.

  • 13 Garden Plants Deer Will Utterly Destroy

    I'm gonna save you some money. I'm gonna save you some time. I'm gonna save you a LOT of heartache, anger, acid reflux, and embarrassing eye twitches. Because if you live where deer cruise the neighborhood at night, there are certain plants you should NEVER stick in the ground lest you find them the next morning on a pleasant little journey down Bambi's digestive tract. Let's start with the Big Three.

    The Big Three Hostas, daylilies, and roses. To a deer, these are fresh-caught Maine lobster served with melted Irish butter. They will scarf down every one they see, even when not offered a suitable wine pairing. You might think thorny roses would be undesirable, but you don't know Bambi. To him, a little physical pain is more than worth the emotional trauma he's going to cause you. Don't even think of planting these three plants in deer country unless your garden is surrounded by an electric fence the size of the one in "Jurassic Park." Hope there's not a power outage.

    10 More Dinnertime Favorites Rhododendrons and azaleas (Rhododendron sp.). What's up with this? Are deer determined to remove all of America's favorite plants from the landscape? Yeah, pretty much.

    Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica). Around the Southern coast and in places with alkaline soil, this broadleaf evergreen is enjoyed as a substitute for acid-loving azaleas. Deer feel the same way. Yum.

    Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira). It grows in many of the same places in the South as Indian hawthorn does. Until deer find it, of course, and then your garden looks so much more open and uncrowded than before. Fist bump!

    Pansies and violas (Viola sp.). This one is a no-brainer. If people can put pansy and viola flowers on salads and eat them, deer surely can. FYI, their favorite dressings are Ranch and Thousand Island.

    Euonymus (Euonymus sp.). Grumpy ain't gonna shed any tears over this one. He hates most species of euonymus, particularly the gruesomely garish golden euonymus (E. japonica 'Aureomarginatus'). If the deer don't get them, scales and mildew will. Good riddance.

    Japanese aucuba (Aucuba japonica). This is one of the better broadleaf evergreen shrubs for shade, especially the popular gold dust plant (A. japonica 'Variegata') with bright yellow spots on deep green leaves. Once a deer spots it, though, it's "sayonara."

    Blueberry (Vaccinium sp.). Did you know that blueberries are among the most potent sources of health-giving antioxidants? Deer certainly do, which is why they will gobble down every one, along with the foliage too. How kind of you to plant them.

    Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata). Among the most common evergreen shrubs for foundation planting and hedges in cold-winter areas, Japanese yew bears soft, red fruits that people find quite toxic. Deer, of course, do not. They relish the leaves as well. Here's looking at yew, kid.

    Tulips (Tulipa sp.). OK, since I just told you to forget about planting pansies and violas for spring color, you think you'll plant sweeps of tulips instead. Wait until the herd sweeps through your yard! Plant daffodils instead. Deer won't touch them.

    American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis). Rows of these pyramidal, needleleaf evergreens are often planted in the burbs to screen out ugly neighbors. Deer, however, think all humans should be friends and that can't happen with arborvitaes in the way. Good dining makes good neighbors!

    Deer-Resistant Plants Now that you know what not to plant, you undoubtedly yearn for information on which plants Bambi won't eat. And you shall find it on the next Grumpy Gardener appearing Wednesday, June 15. Toodles.

    Evergreen broad-leaved shrubs and conifers are threatened by cold temperatures that can result in desiccation or browning of foliage. When temperatures are cold and the sun warms the leaves or needles, transpiration pulls water away. If the ground is frozen, the roots can't take up more water and the leaves dry out and turn brown (known as desiccation). Make sure the plants are well-watered in the late fall. Watering on warm days through the winter also can be helpful in warmer climates, where the ground isn't frozen.

    Arborvitae and yews are some of the most susceptible shrubs to desiccation and winter burn. Younger, smaller plants can be protected by propping pine boughs -- one way to recycle your Christmas tree branches -- over the plants to act as a windbreak. This also helps catch snow, which acts as insulation. Low evergreens that are covered with snow are better protected and able to withstand wintry temperatures than those left to weather the winter sun and wind.

    Products known as antidesiccants are touted as protecting foliage from drying out. Research has shown mixed results with these products, but some horticulturists think they are beneficial in preventing winter damage and recommend their use.

    Burlap, canvas, or other landscape fabric can serve as a wind barrier. Not only are such barriers helpful to protect against salt damage, they can lessen wind damage and sun heating. Drive wooden stakes into the ground, then staple burlap to the stakes to form a wind barrier. Make sure they are placed on the wind-facing and south sides of plants. Plants with southern exposure are at greater risk due to higher temperatures from the sun, followed by extremely cold temperatures at night. Avoid plastic wraps around plants they can heat up to the point of cooking the plant.

    Chemical Injury

    It's also possible that browning of an evergreen's branches is the result of exposure of the plant to an herbicide, especially if it occurs shortly after you've use a chemical spray. Some types of herbicides are especially likely to cause this, including those called growth regulators that stop plant growth and others that kill vegetation by direct contact. If you spray these products in your garden, do so on a windless day, when the spray is unlikely to spread through the air, and keep the spray nozzle turned away from evergreens while you're using it. If browning of the evergreen's branches isn't severe, the plant can recover from the damage, especially if you keep it well-watered for the remainder of the season.

    Watch the video: Euonymus fortunei Growing Guide Winter Creeper by GardenersHQ