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General Information on Eunymus Fortunei

Eunoymus fortunei (wintercreeper) grows slowly and is easy to care for; it won't develop notable flowers. It is an excellent choice for small facade-greening projects. Our assortment of wintercreepers includes a wide palette of colours and patterns. The cultivars presented here are all frost resistant and are a good alternative for ivy, which grows too vigorously for some walls. Ivy may damage walls by growing into cracks and crevices, and using wintercreeper instead may prevent damage to buildings.

(also known as spindle, winter creeper or Fortune's spindle. Latin: Euonymus fortunei).

Euonymus fortunei on the wall

Classification

The genus has 170 species, but only one is really interesting for facade greening or as a ground-covering climber: the Chinese Wintercreeper "Euonymus Fortunei" that has been introduced to Europe in 1862, as well as all its cultivars. You can also find additional information on the wintercreeper on our blog (only available in German for the moment).

 

How are there so many species? Probably because wintercreepers are highly adaptable. A wintercreeper reacts like a chameleon to external stimuli (like frost or poor soils) by changing the colour of its leaves, which take on a yellow, white, or even pink colour, and new patterns. By cutting branches that present new characteristics and multiplying them, the new characteristics become fixed and can be propagated and sold as a new cultivar. Wintercreeper will take on a new shape when it is old enough to produce flowers and berries, from wich new cultivars can also be won.

 

There are so many cultivars already that an author (Laurence C. Hatch: Cultivars of Woody Plants, 2017) made this appeal: 'We need no more cultivars of this species. Stop! Please!'

Ground Cover and Climbing Plants

All these cultivars are sold and used as ground-covers-- hence the name "creeper." They must be pruned regularly... when a wintercreeper is not pruned, it may lose its characteristics, and regain its aged or juvenile forms. It might develop adventive roots and climb walls and facades or their leaves will lose their coloured pattern to take on a plain green color. All "ground cover" cultivars of the wintercreeper can be used as climbing plants for facade greening, but it will be hard to tell from the description how they will actually look on a wall.

The Assortment from FassadenGrün

We at FassadenGrün are more interested in wintercreepers as climbing plants than as ground covers - we want "winterclimbers" and not "winter creepers." We have selected some of the best known cultivars so that our assortment has a variety of leaf colours and patterns as well as growing speeds. Several cultivars can be planted next to each other on a facade for more variety. Several cultivars that won't alter their appearance when used as climbing plants are sold here under their common name (such as "Emerald Gold") Others we have renamed and will be found with this name only in our online shop (Light Wintercreeper).

Requirements / Position

Euonymus is just as frost hardy as ivy and will thrive in urban climates with dust exhaust fumes, etc.. Wintercreeper likes sunny to semi-shaded positions. Any type of soil, even calcareous soil can be used, but it shouldn't be too compacted or dry. Enough moisture is necessary until late in autumn, and even in winter they need some watering. The distance between two plants should be 1 - 2 metres.

Characteristics and Pruning

Euonymus fortunei is a species of evergreen shrub that can climb (via rootlets) as a vine if provided with support-- on walls, facades, or other supports. It can also be trained by pruning it and binding to a trellis. The leaves are long, thick, and frost hardy. Wintercreeper will seldom grow higher than 5 metres but can grow up to 20 m. It may grow into cracks or develop annoying stolos/runners. Depending on the cultivar, it will bear flowers and ornamental berries, much appreciated by birds. Pruning the long shoots ('spindles') in spring will promote branching.

Climbing Aids on Facades

Eonymus fortunei will grow as shrubs without a trellis and will take on a "hedge" shape. Wintercreeper can be pruned as "formed/shaped trees" with a trellis. See the table below for all suitable trellis designs. Choose a trellis kit in the easy or medium ranges.

Suitable wire rope trellises?

Click on the picture to see the table of all suitable trellis designs.

Suitable Wire Rope Trellises for Euonymus fortunei

Click on the graphics for more details!

 = suitable            = sometimes suitable              = not suitable