Article by David Marks
All varieties of Euonymus Fortunei are evergreen and hold their colour particularly well in winter. Height and spread does depend on the variety from 1m / 3ft for “Emerald n Gold” up to 2.5m / 8ft for “Silver Queen”. They are easily pruned to the height and shape you require with only a pair of secateurs and 10 minutes required.

Any flowers produced are not noticeable, you are growing these shrubs for their foliage interest. Unlike some other evergreen plants, Euonymus loose none of their vibrant colour in winter.

Use the checklist below to decide if a Euonymus Fortunei is suited to your preferences and garden growing conditions:

  • An evergreen shrub providing year round colourful foliage
  • Height and spread varies by variety, anywhere between 60cm / 2ft to 2.5m / 8ft.
  • It is fully hardy in almost all areas of the UK withstanding temperatures down to -12°C.
  • It does well in an extremely wide range of conditions. Anything between shade to full sun, dry soil to moist soil is fine for your Euonymus Fortunei
  • Once established, it very rarely requires watering and will tolerate drought.
  • All varieties make excellent dense hedges,
  • Disease resistance is excellent.
  • It is maintenance free requiring only simple pruning to keep it to shape every couple of years.
  • They make ideal plants for containers.


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.


When established a Euonymus Fortunei will look after itself. It almost never needs watering except in severe drought and will grow quite happily on average ground without the need of additional feeds.

When you first plant a new Euonymus Fortunei make sure it has sufficient water for at least the first year of its life by which time the root system will have established itself well.

Six months or so after planting, normally April time, prune the top third of the shrub away. No other complicated methods, just take a pair of shears / secateurs and cut away. This will encourage new growth from the base of the plant which will make it bush out.

After that your Euonymus will look after itself. If you want to restrict its size, prune to shape in April or May time. We suggest that you take a look at the colour of the foliage every year or so to identify any which has lost its variegated markings. Prune the affected foliage away to retain the variegated areas.


All the varieties share the ability to grow well in almost all conditions including dry, shade. They do however differ in colour and size as the following paragraphs show.

These plants are available in varying stages of development from almost all garden centres and online plant suppliers. The online supplier we personally recommend for Euonymus Fortunei is Crocus.

When buying Euonymus Fortunei varieties it’s just as well to bear in mind that they grow relatively slowly, no more than 10cm / 4in per year and sometimes slower. This often explains the significant difference in price between young and older plants.


Emerald Gaiety has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS and quite rightly it is one of the most popular varieties. The leaves are bright green with white edges. Young leaves take on a lightly pink hue in winter. Reaching a maximum height of 1.2m / 4ft and a spread of 1.5m / 5ft, they are easily kept to shape with an annual prune.

Emerald Gaiety makes an ideal hedge of up to 3ft / 1m high, easy to keep in shape, virtually maintenance free and has year round colour. An excellent choice if you want an evergreen plant for container growing.


Another Euonymus Fortunei with a well deserved RHS Award of Garden Merit. In all respects it’s the same as Emerald Gaiety (described above) however the leaves have a golden margin rather than a white margin.


Silver Queen grows slightly taller than the two varieties above, to an ultimate height of 2m / 6ft and spread of 1.5m / 5ft. The leaves are variegated with a green centre portion and a white / yellow margin. A good choice for a slow growing, low maintenance hedge or a single plant on its own. Not recommended for container growing.


A low growing variety reaching a maximum height and width of about 80cm. It’s not small enough to be a rockery plant but it is good for under-planting between taller plants. The distinguishing feature is the foliage which is almost pure white when it emerges, turning to a very bright green and silver as the leaves age.

Whilst ‘Harlequin’ are as strong and tolerant as the other varieties mentioned above, their foliage can suffer slightly if grown in full sun. On the other hand, the variegated foliage can be slightly bland if grown in shade. The best conditions seem to be full sun in the morning or the afternoon but avoiding full sun around the the middle of the day.


In general, these plants are very healthy and suffer from only a few pests / diseases. The most common are listed below:


The most frequently encountered problem with Euonymus Fortunei is Powdery Mildew, even so it is not a common problem. The symptoms are a fine, white, powder-like coating on newly emerging leaves. This disease affects new leaves far more than older leaves. The picture below shows Powdery Mildew on a blackcurrant leaf but the symptoms are same for all leaves.

We have a page written specifically about Powdery Mildew which describes the treatments available, both organic and chemical. to go there now.


Recognising an attack of Euonymus Scale depends on the time of year. From May to September the most visible sign will be the grey / white male insects on the surface of the leaves. Primarily on the undersides of the leaves they can also appear on the top surface. At certain times of year tiny crawlers will also be visible. See the picture below.

At all times of the year you will also see the female scale insects. These will appear as brown / black scales on the stems. They don’t move and have a protective outer coating. See the picture below.

Courtesy of reader Tamara S.

Plants attacked by Euonymus Scale will generally grow poorly and leaves on the inner stems and lower down the plant will fall off.

Euonymus Scale is native to East Asia and first appeared in the UK in 1936. It then disappeared and made a re-appearance in 1952. Over the last decade it has spread throughout England and Wales and is becoming far more common. In parts of the USA where this pest is better established the most commonly given advice is to dig up affected plants, burn them and replant resistant plants.

The life cycle of Euonymus Scale is described below. There are two generations each year, occasionally three. The first generation appears in May time when the females, which have overwintered on the stems, lay eggs. These become “crawlers” which feed for the next couple of days before choosing a permanent feeding place (males on leaves, females on stems) where they latch on and produce a waxy coating.

During the year the males mate with the females to produce more eggs. Finally in September / October the males tend to die off but the fertilised females hide under their covering during winter.

Pesticides are only effective when the scales are at the crawler or adult phase. The waxy coating which covers them at other stages of their life is impervious to pesticides. The problem is that that the two or three generations which occur each year tend to overlap. This effectively means that crawlers and adults are hatching from May to September time.

The best sprays are Provado Ultimate Bug Killer or Bug Ultra Clear. The best itme to spray is when the crawlers and insects are active. Probably the most effective time is in early to mid May or as soon as you see the crawlers in May time.

Having explained the treatment above, our advice we would be to consider carefully if you want to spend nearly a fiver on a pesticide which is not guaranteed to cure the problem. Sometimes it is best to dig the plant up, burn it and buy a different type which will not be affected.

If you have any other problems with Euonymus Fortunei plants then please use our contact form at the end of this page and we will do our best to help.


Below we list the key strengths and weaknesses of this plant.

HARDY (to -12°C)
SHADE Yes, full sun also
FLOWERING Insignificant

Sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article above. Our
Euonymus comment / question and answer page
lists their comments, questions and answers. At the end of that page there is also a form for you to submit any new question or comment you have.


Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’

Hi. I’m looking to plant a series of dwarf evergreen shrubs along the edge of a bed to act as a visual boundary for my dogs. I’m thinking of using Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ but really want to restrict the height to about 40cm. I see in the notes that ‘young’ plants can be pruned in early spring and my question would be, can this pruning be carried out each year to maintain the desired height and, if so, would this have an impact its spread? Suggestions for any alternative evergreen shrubs would be appreciated. Cheers.


2015-12-05 2015-12-09 Can I plant Euonymus Fortunei emerald & gold (1.5 litre pots) in early November?



Hello there Yes this fully hardy plant can still be planted in November, as long as it isn’t freezing and the ground isn’t frozen. Hope this helps

2015-10-29 Can this plant cause a skin irritation?



Hello there It is not one of the plants that is know to cause skin irritation. Hope this helps.

2015-04-14 What could be the cause and how to get rid of ‘white powdery substance covering many leaves of my Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald’n’Gold which is planted in a ceramic pot. This is the second year I have had this plant, it was not like this last year. Its position is part sun/part shade and does not get rainfall only watered by myself. Thank you.



Hello, This could be powdery mildew, which is brought on by the plant being too dry, often also with poor air circulation around the top growth. Therefore I would try to water more often, pot it up if necessary, and if it is really bad, spray with a general purpose fungicide.



Plant suggestions for a child’s ‘Fairy Garden’ Sirs, Having recently cleared and replanted much of my garden my 11 year old daughter has asked for her own plot to create a “fairy garden”. I love the idea of her looking after her own area, and she will also help, and have part of the vegetable plot. However I am stuck as to which plants (shrubs, perennials or otherwise) to suggest for the fairy garden. The plot she has selected is above the waterfall. The soil is a little heavy but other than that quite good, but it is in the shade of a large sycamore tree. Can you suggest any shade tolerant plants for this area? In case it helps, it sits next to a Japanese inspired area. The area is approximately 2m square, but if you have any ideas that might need more space that is also OK . Thank you.

Adam Prince

2010-03-15 2010-03-16

Crocus Helpdesk

Plants for a demanding site! Hi We are looking for a ready-made border for a demanding site. The area is in shade with trees, the soil is clay, and is dry in summer and in the winter. We are wanting, if possibly for it to flower in the spring, summer, autumn, and winter! The area to cover is three areas of 5mtrs x 2mtrs – it is a new border, and we want to have some height at the back of the border. Thank you

A Blunt’vyse

2010-03-10 2010-03-11

Crocus Helpdesk

Creating a Winter Garden Dear Crocus I am wanting to create a ” winter garden ” area and fancy an Acer griseum as the central feature. I had thought of planting a Cornus Midwinter Fire and Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ to complement the scheme but I would welcome any other suggestions please. Many thanks Claire



Hello Claire, If you click on the following link it will take you to all our winter flowering plants. I would definitely recommend hellebores and snowdrops, perhaps some Cyclamen and and Euonymus fortunei for foliage colour. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor


Crocus Helpdesk

Planting ideas for under large Cedar trees Hi, We have a garden that has about 10 large cedar trees in it. The garden doesn’t contain any plants other than a small yew and holly tree. The soil looks acidic. The garden has not been used or maintained for many, many, years hence pine needles, and cones have just been left to rot down. We have cleaned up as much as we can and cut some of the lower branches off the Cedars. Now our problem is what will grow? We need a hedge, preferably evergreen and quick growing (not leylandii). Also we need ground cover, – we would like grass but are unsure whether it will grow. Is there any way we can pretty this garden up with some evergreens and perennials without too much hassle? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Nadine

Philip Cordell

2010-02-16 2010-02-17

Crocus Helpdesk

Plants for under hedges? Hello, I have two hedges that are only a year old – mostly hawthorn, hazel, wild rose and crab apple. A lot of grasses have grown up into and around them. I am about to weed all this out and was wondering what I could plant underneath to prevent the grasses coming up again in the spring. I was having a look at your perennial prism – what would be good to plant now? I live in Scotland so am a bit worried about the frosts. I would like to get something planted before the spring as we will be moving. Many thanks for your help, Jessica

Jessica Harris

2009-10-10 2009-10-12

Crocus Helpdesk

Advice for planting in shady area by our front door please Hi! We buy quite a few plants from Crocus and attend your open days. Could you advise on a problem we have by the side of our front door. It is a very shady flower bed, with a wooden veranda roof structure which leads to the front door hence making it very shady, although the flower bed does receive rain water. We are looking for a shrub which is evergreen to give eye catching colour, possibly from its variegated leaves. We wondered about a Phorbia? which has spiky leaves, some species are bright pink but we thought they might need full sun. Any suggestions would be helpful. It must not get too big (tree size) about 3 – 4 ft maximum height. Thank you Marian

Gamemoor Ltd \(Marian\)

2009-09-28 2009-09-28

Crocus Helpdesk

Golden Euonymus Care: Growing Golden Euonymus Shrubs In The Garden

Growing golden euonymous shrubs (Euonymus japonicus ‘Aureo-marginatus’) bring color and texture to your garden. This evergreen offers forest-green foliage that is broadly trimmed in bright golden yellow, making the shrub ideal for bright hedges or accent plants. You’ll find another enticing reason to start growing golden euonymous shrubs if you learn just how easy golden euonymous care can be. Read on for more golden euonymous information.

Golden Euonymous Information

Golden euonymous information tells you that this is a very dense shrub with an oval shape if grown in full sun. The thick foliage makes it ideal for a privacy or even a sound hedge.

The shrubs are really striking in the garden. The eyonymous leaves are leathery to the touch and grow up to three inches long. The boldly variegated foliage is the star here. Most leaves are emerald green splashed liberally with buttercup yellow. But, occasionally, you’ll get branches where all of the leaves are solid yellow.

Don’t expect showy flowers. The greenish-white blossoms appear in spring but you may not even notice them. They are inconspicuous.

Golden euonymous shrubs can grow to 10 feet high and 6 feet wide. One alone can make a stunning statement in your garden. However, the dense foliage of these evergreen plants adapts readily to pruning and even shearing, so they are often used as hedges.

How to Grow Golden Euonymous Shrubs

If you are wondering how to grow golden euonymous shrubs, it isn’t very difficult. You’ll need to plant them in a sunny spot, provide weekly irrigation and fertilize them annually. Consider growing golden euonymous shrubs if you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6-9.

When you start growing golden euonymous shrubs, you’ll do best to select a site with moist, fertile, well-drained soil. However, don’t worry too much about your soil type as long as it drains well. The bushes are tolerant and will accept almost any kind of soil.

Caring for Golden Euonymous Shrubs

Euonymous shrubs are not high maintenance. However, caring for golden euonymous shrubs requires more effort the year they are planted. They will require regular water – up to twice a week – until the root system has established.

After that, a weekly watering is usually sufficient. Provide a balanced fertilizer in early spring. Use a slightly lower dose than recommended on the label to avoid burning the roots. If necessary, repeat in mid-autumn.

Golden euonymous care includes an annual pruning if planted in a hedge or you want your garden to look neat and tidy. Left to their own devices, they may outgrow the space you have set aside for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *