How to Grow Euonymus

A common shrub,of which there are both evergreen and deciduous varieties. Many evergreen varieties, the fortunei cultivars, are grown for their brightly coloured foliage. Illustrated above left is E. fortunei 'Harlequin' which is a low growing compact variety with a slight pink tinge to the leaves. On the right is the frequently grown E. fortunei 'Emerald n Gold', a really bright shrub which will light up a shady corner, being tolerant of partial shade. The advantage of growing Euonymus is that they are tough shrubs which will tolerate less than ideal conditions, making them suitable for growing in a difficult area of the garden.

Euonymus grow best in a reasonably well-drained soil, in sun or partial shade. The variegated varieties do better with more sun. Euonymus require no real pruning or maintenance and are maintenance free.  

Below are images of two of the most commonly grown evergreen varieties, Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald ‘n‘ Gold  (right) and Silver Queen (center) illustrated as mature shrubs. If you are planting a mixed shrub border, Euonymus is a good addition, as they are so easy to grow and their variegation stands out even on gloomy days. 

The fortunei varieties are tough and will grow in an exposed site,  windy areas, partial shade which makes them a useful garden shrub, particualry for difficult areas. They will also tolerate alkaline soil.

As with all variegated plants, reversion can occur. This is when the new growth is without variation. Should this occur, prune out the reversionary growth back to the main shrub to maintain variegation in the foliage.

Many Euonymus are evergreen. It is worth mentioning that there is a commonly grown, deciduous variety illustrated top centre, Euonymus 'Red Cascade' which has strong autumn colour and berries. For more information, check out shrubs with Autumn and Winter colour, some deciduous euonymus look fantastic in autumn.

Euonymus is versatile, with excellent variegated foliage and often overlooked as a commonplace shrub, but to do so would under estimate their garden value as a maintenance free garden shrub with lovely variegated foliage.

 Check out Fast Growing Evergreen Shrubs for more planting ideas.


How and when to prune Euonymus


Euonymus do not require routine pruning. Sometimes the evergreen variety may require pruning if they are displaying weak spindly stems, uneven growth or shape, or have become overgrown requiring renovation.

Prune in early spring before the new growth is evident. Cut out any poor stems, and lightly trim into shape. Take out any dead or damaged stems. If there is uneven growth level up. This is also the time to prune Euonymus if you are growing as a hedge to trim into shape.

If the Euonymus has become overgrown, you can renovate it by hard pruning. It is best undertaken gradually, removing around 1/3 of the overgrown material each spring.

Pests: Euonymus Scale

Euonymus scale infestation

Euonymus are virtually trouble free but now and again a problem can arise. One of my web visitors sent this image to me asking for help to identify and deal with the infestation, and kindly let me use this image.

This is the Euonymus Scale, which is now found all over the UK. It's a sap sucking pest originally found only in the south coast but working is way around. It can damage the foliage and cause die back. It is commonly found between April and August.

Organic advice is to encourage predators, which is mainly ladybirds and the kidney lady bird but hard to find. You can scrape or brush them off. If repeated brushing off the leaves or if the infestation is severe, you may have to resort to a commercial pesticide to dispose of the infestation. There are some good organic spray which will require repeated application as their effect is short-lived.

Euonymus is easy to grow, tough tolerant of all growing conditions, maintenance free definitely and a green wheelbarrow shrub. 

Euonymus planting combination


Euonymus planting scheme in the image which is Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald and Gold', a yellow flowering Rhododendron luteum, (which is wonderfully scented) and Aquilegia 'Swan Lavender'  a brilliant bright spring combination. 

Euonymus flowering

Euonymus fortunei Emerald and Gold in flower

Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald and Gold' has attractive white flowers which add to its value as a great garden shrub.

Silver leaved Euonymus

There are also some very good silver leaved varieties of Euonymus. 

Euonymus alatus 'Compactus'

As the name suggests, a deciduous compact form of Euonymus growing to around 1.5 with fantastic autumn colour. This variety and other Euonymus are available from Crocus.