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Growing Euonymus Plant

Knowing how to grow a Euonymus plant is essential for adding excellent texture to your garden. The good news is it’s actually pretty easy.

This type of shrub comes in 175 different varieties which include everything from dwarf shrubs up to 15 feet tall trees and even climbing vines.

They are favoured for their attractive foliage and their stunning autumn color. Some of these plants even have unique fruit and seed pods.

They are available in a huge range of colour and size. You can get them as deciduous plants or evergreens.

Whether you need them for

  • ground cover
  • border plants
  • hedges
  • specimen plants

This shrub will have you covered.

Growing Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus) Plant

My Experience with the Euonymus plant

I have a couple different plants growing in my gardens. 

The Dwarf Burning Bush which I love the bright red foliage in the fall. It can get very large if you don’t keep it trimmed and Moonshadow, which is a smaller variety.

A Euonymus plant can act as a versatile plant as they can be used as a climber, ground cover or even a hedge depending on the variety.

Pruning Your Euonymus

Pruning the tips can be done anytime to keep its shape and size but I wouldn’t cut the plant back hard until it is dormant. Your plant will get very stressed if you cut it back hard when it is still in its growing stage.

In our Canadian Hardiness zone 6a the plant should be dormant from the end of November until the beginning of April. If you want to rejuvenate your bush, you can cut it back to about a foot or so. It will take a few years to reach maturity again but it will be worth it. Your shrub will look like new again.

Varieties of Euonymus Plants

There are many types of shrubs to choose from. Here are a few I have in my landscape and offer in my plant nursery:

Dwarf Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’)

Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’)

This is a smaller version of the Burning bush shrubs but still hold the same characteristics with the bright green leaves in spring and summer and fabulous bright red leaves in the fall.

Maxing out at 8' tall and 10' wide but can be pruned to a smaller size.

Emerald n Gold (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n Gold')

Emerald n Gold (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n Gold')

A moderate grower to about 2 feet tall and spreading up to 5 feet, this makes for a great ground cover plant.

Grown in full sun to full shade it's an easy shrub to care for.

Emerald Gaiety (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety')

Emerald Gaiety (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety')

Green and white variegated leaves maxing out around 2 - 3 feet in 10 years. Very slow growing.

Stems will root where they touch the ground and they will even climb if they have support.

Moonshadow (Euonymus fortunei 'Moonshadow')

Dark green edges surround the yellowish centers on this shrub

Deep dark green variegated leaves with yellow centers that becomes pinkish in winter; it will quickly reach 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Use as a hedge, border or even in container gardens.

Harlequin Wintercreeper

New leaves start out white and eventually get green speckles through them and get a pink tinge when mature.

Will grow in dry shaded areas.

12-18" tall and 18-24" wide

Loves full sun to part shade

These are great choices for hedges, borders, stand alone specimens, and more with year round interest. Which one is your favourite?

Pest and Diseases 

The main 2 problems with the Euonymus plant are scale insects and crown gall. There are other pests and diseases to watch for but they are less severe.


Scale Insects – They are sap sucking insects that wear a hard waxy coating for protection. They resemble small bumps on the stems of plants that rarely move once they become adults. If the infestation becomes bad enough they will kill the plant.

They are difficult to control but keeping the plant healthy and well watered during drought will help prevent them. If it is just a small infestation rub the stems with your finger or a small brush that has been dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also prune out any heavy infected branches and dispose of them into the garbage. You can also use horticulture oil.

Besides scale insects you need to watch for:

  • Aphids
  • Black vine weevil
  • Glassy-winged sharpshooter
  • Root nematodes


Crown Gall – This is a soil inhabitant bacterium that interferes with the water and nutrients that the plant needs to grow. It can stunt the plants growth; cause leaves to turn yellow and fall off and stems to die back. The plant will develop rough round circular masses with a corky texture.

There isn’t a cure for crown gall but branches that have been affected can be pruned out and disposed of. A plant can survive for several years with this disease but if it gets really bad you may have to dispose of the plant. The soil around where the plant was will still be infected with the disease for 2-3 years. If you want to plant something in place of the removed shrub, pick something that won’t be affected by gall. Boxwoods, barberries and holly are good choices. 

Other diseases that might affect your plant are:

  • Powdery Mildew
  • Cercospora Leaf Spot
  • Anthracnose
  • Scab
  • Sooty Mold
  • Phytophthora Blight


There are many ways to propagate the Euonymus plant. It depends on the variety on which one you want to do. However, they can all be propagated through stem cuttings.

The easiest way to propagate is by stem cuttings. Take a cutting about 4” long put it in a pot of potting soil, wet down the soil and cutting thoroughly and cover with a white plastic bag. Check it about twice a week to make sure it is kept moist and in a few weeks it should have roots. For more on rooting cuttings check out my propagation article.

You can also propagate them through:

  • Seeds
  • Layering
  • Cuttings in water
  • Grafting

Using Them in Your Garden

There are several ways to use these shrubs in your landscape, here are a few:

  • As a hedge
  • Along a fence row or long blank wall that you want to break up
  • a single specimen plant
  • along a walkway or driveway
  • the tree varieties can be a focal point in your yard
  • climbers can grow on arbors, tree or anywhere you want it to climb

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