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Emerald Gaiety Euonymus

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Photo: Emerald Gaiety Hedge. It doubles as a foundation planting.

Hedge of Emerald Gaiety euonymus shrubs along a foundation. Click "More Images" to see a closeup picture of the leaves.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Emerald Gaiety Euonymus:

Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety' is the way plant taxonomy refers to this plant, the words in single quotation marks forming the name of the cultivar. "Wintercreeper" is sometimes used as a common name for the plants of this species, but "euonymus" is now employed widely enough to have essentially become an alternate common name.

Plant Type:

Emerald Gaiety euonymus is an evergreen shrub. More specifically, it is a broadleaf evergreen.

Characteristics:

This plant attains a mature height of 3-5 feet, with a slightly greater spread. Branches grow upright. Despite being classified as a shrub (bush), Emerald Gaiety euonymus can be grown as a vine. If this is how you'd like to use the plant in your landscaping, provide support and train it accordingly. The plant is grown for its variegated leaves, which sport green centers and white edges. This is a slow-to-moderate grower.

Planting Zones for Emerald Gaiety Euonymus:

According to the USDA, the recommended areas for growing this shrub are planting zones 5 to 8.

Growing Conditions:

Grow in full sun to partial shade. Unlike with the members of this species that display green and gold variegation, some feel the color is superior on Emerald Gaiety euonymus when it receives a bit of shade.

These shrubs will grow best in a well-drained soil.

Landscaping Uses for Emerald Gaiety Euonymus:

As small shrubs, they work well in foundation plantings. Some people use them as ornamental hedge plants (I say "ornamental" because they are not tall enough to provide privacy). In the picture that I have supplied (above, right), you can see an example of Emerald Gaiety euonymus serving both of these functions at once.

Massed together, Emerald Gaiety euonymus can serve as a groundcover. And since it can assume the form of a vine if given support, I have seen homeowners train it up a mailbox post. Indeed, because this plant is tough, tolerating pollution and drought moderately well, it is effective in mailbox plantings.

Care:

One thing to watch out for when you grow Emerald Gaiety euonymus (and other two-toned types, as well) is reversion. That is, the shrub over time will likely try to revert back to the way the species plant looks and push out new branches with leaves that are all green. Prune off those shoots when you encounter them.

Infestations of scale are another thing to keep an eye out for. If you can catch this problem in time (while it's still minor), repeated sprayings of Neem oil insecticide (it's organic) may do the trick.

Potential Problems:

The branches of Emerald Gaiety euonymus often root where they make contact with the soil. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. It's good in the sense that, if you're using it as a ground cover, it will spread and fill in an area nicely, so that weeds won't gain a foothold. But this fact also means that the plant is potentially invasive, depending on the region in which you live.

Outstanding Features of Emerald Gaiety Euonymus:

Generally speaking, the strong point of this shrub on an aesthetic level is its bright, cheerful color pattern. More narrowly, being an evergreen, it holds some potential for visual interest in winter. If you live in a region that can receive heavy snowfalls in winter, then to exploit this potential you'll want to train the plant to assume the form of a vine by growing it up a support (thus elevating it above snow level). The leaves of Emerald Gaiety euonymus and related plants in the E. fortunei species (see below) often add pink to their color palette in winter, making them even more colorful than during the other three seasons of the year. There is a reason, after all, why "wintercreeper" is a common name for these shrubs.

On a practical level, I admire their versatility. They can be grown in sun or shade. And their Protean ability to function as shrubs, vines or ground covers means that you, as the grower, get multiple arrows in your landscaping quiver from one plant.

Other Types of E. Fortunei:

If you like this plant, then "fortune" smiles upon you, as there are other cultivars of the species, E. fortunei that are readily available at garden centers, including:

The variegation on 'Silver Queen' is similar, but the plant has bigger leaves. Meanwhile, the variegation on the other two shrubs listed above is green and gold, rather than green and white.

Another well-known species in this genus is E. alata, the burning bush.


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