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General Information on Eunymus Fortunei

Eunoymus fortunei (wintercreeper) is a shrubby plant that grows slowly and is easy to care for. It is an excellent choice for small facade-greening projects. It has lovely variegated leaves though unremarkable flowers. Our assortment of wintercreepers features 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. With its unaggressive growth, there's not much risk of building damage here, as with ivy.

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

Euonymus fortunei on the wall
Euonymus fortunei on the wall


This is a genus with more than 170 species, but as a facade climber or ground-cover climber, only one is really interesting: the Chinese Wintercreeper "Euonymus Fortunei" introduced to Europe in 1862, of which there are many cultivars. 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 from a plant that presents new properties and multiplying them, the new properties 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 which new cultivars can also be cultivated. 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

FassadenGrün is 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 (like "Emerald Gold"). Others we have renamed and will be found with this name only("Light Wintercreeper") in our online shop.

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 locations. Any type of soil, even calcareous soil can be used, but it shouldn't be too compact or dry. Enough moisture is necessary until late in autumn, and even in winter they need some watering. Distance between two plants: 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 for the Facade

Without a supporting trellis, eonymus fortunei will grow as a shrub and take on a 'hedge' shape. To keep the shoots flat on the wall, a wintercreeper must be grown as formed/shaped trees with a climbing aid. See the table below for all suitable trellis designs. Choose a wire rope trellis kit in the easy or medium range.

Compatible wire rope trellises?

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

Wire Rope Trellises for Euonymus fortunei

Click on the graphics for more details!

 = suitable            = sometimes suitable              = not suitable