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General Information on Eunymus Fortunei

Eunoymus fortunei (wintercreeper) won't develop notable flowers, they grow slowly and are easy to care for climbing plants. They are excellent choices for small facade-greening projects. Our assortment of wintercreepers includes a wide palette of colors and patterns. The cultivars presented here are all frost resistant and are a good alternative for ivy, wich grows too vigorously for some walls. Ivy may damage walls by growing into cracks and crevices, and using wintercreeper instead may prevent damages to buildings.

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

Euonymus fortunei on the wall

Systematics

The genus comprises 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 in Europe in 1862, as well as all its cultivars. You can also find additional information on the wintercreeper in 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 such as frost or poor soils, by changing the color of its leaves, wich take on a yellow, white, or even pink color and new patterns. By cutting branches that present new characterists 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 they are 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 plant

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 their aged or juvenile forms. They might develop adventive roots and climb walls and facades and the leaves will lose their colored 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.

On our assortment

We at FassadenGrün are more interested in wintercreepers as climbing plants than as ground covers - wen want "Winterclimbers" and not "Wintercreepers". We have selected some of the best known cultivars for or assortment t have a variety of leaf colors 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).

Needs / Position

Euonymus is just as frost hardy as ivy and will thrive in urban climates with dust exhaust fumes and others. Wintercreeper like 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 there should be some watering. The distance between two plants should be between 1 and 2 meters.

Characteristics and pruning

Euonymus fortunei are shrubs that may climb as vines on walls, facades or other supports by developing rootlets. They may also be trained by pruning them and binding them to a trellis. The leaves are long, thick and frost hardy. Wintercreeper will seldom grow higher than 5 meters. They may grow into cracks or develop annoying stolos. Depending on the cultivar they will bear flowers and ornamental berries wich are appreciated by birds. Pruning the long shoots in spring will promote branching.

Growing 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 trees" with a trellis. There is a table with all suitable trellis designs at the bottom of this page. Choose a trellis kit in the Simple or Medium ranges.

Suitable wire rope trellises?

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

Suitable wire rope trellises for euonymus fortunei

Click on the pictures for more information on each trellis

 = suitable            = sometimes suitable              = not suitable