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Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs


Photo of Emerald 'N' Gold euonymus.

Photo of Emerald 'N' Gold euonymus.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs:

Plant taxonomy classifies these plants as Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold.' This is a case where the Latin name (Euonymus) is so commonly used that it essentially doubles as a common name; in such instances I don't capitalize it. 'Emerald 'n' Gold' is the cultivar name.

Plant Type:

Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs have broadleaf foliage and are considered evergreen shrubs.

Characteristics of Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs:

Although they can achieve somewhat larger dimensions by maturity (if left unpruned), Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs are most often pruned to be kept compact: about 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. Some of the plants' numerous, rigid branches shoot more or less straight up into the air (as do the branches on 'Emerald Gaiety'), while others hug the ground before curling upwards at their tips. The trademark of this shrub, as with Moonshadow euonymus, is its variegated foliage -- in this case, green on the inside, golden on the outside (the gold tends to fade on older leaves). A touch of pink may come into the leaves in fall or winter.

Planting Zones for Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs:

The shrubs are best grown in planting zones 5-8.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs:

Grow Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs in well-drained soils. While they're not fussy about sun vs. shade, they will produce their best color display if planted in full sun.

Landscaping Uses:

With their low-mounding habit, Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs can function as groundcovers; planted on a hillside, they are effective at erosion control. But they are also just tall enough for use as low hedges or foundation plants. Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs are showy enough to warrant their use as specimen plants, if used in odd-numbered groupings.

Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs vs. Wintercreeper Vine:

Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs shouldn't be confused with Euonymus fortunei var. radicans, although both are sometimes referred to as "wintercreeper" (or "winter creeper"). Radicans is a climbing vine and considered a highly invasive plant. But under the right conditions, where its stems make contact with bare ground, Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs can spread, as the stems may put down roots; to avoid such spreading, lay down mulch and weed fabric and keep them pruned back. Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs will climb a bit if supported but are basically shrubs and not nearly as aggressive as climbing euonymus.

Care for Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs:

The beautiful variegated foliage may revert to plain old green on new shoots. When this occurs, simply prune off the green shoots. Fortunately, Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus shrubs are very amenable to pruning: I cut mine back by 1/3 each spring to encourage dense, bushy growth. In terms of pests, keep an eye out for scale infestations.

More on Emerald 'N' Gold Euonymus Shrubs:

The genus name, Euonymus comes from the Greek for "well-named" (i.e., lucky). The name is thought to have been used euphemistically, as this genus was deemed anything but lucky: some types of euonymus have been considered poisonous.

Until you've seen the word in print and memorized the spelling, you'd have to be pretty lucky to spell it correctly, and misspellings abound, including cases where the person has forgotten (or never knew) that the name begins with "eu" rather than just "u." But you can remember this easily if you take careful note of the derivation from the Greek that I provided above. The "well" in the literal translation of the botanical name comes the Greek prefix eu. We have it in many English words, including "euphemism," which means literally "a speaking well [of something]" (as opposed to speaking bluntly about it).

Meanwhile, the specific epithet, fortunei, derives from the fact that it was 19th-century botanist, Robert Fortune who brought the species to the West from its native China. And finally, the cultivar name, 'Emerald 'n' Gold,' comes, of course, from its variegated foliage: leaves that are emerald (or green, at least) with golden edging.

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