Euonymus fortunei 'Variegatus'
Common Name: wintercreeper
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Celastraceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Greenish white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Tolerate: Black Walnut
Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) has been identified by a task force of the Missouri Botanical Garden as one of the top twenty plants known to be spreading into native plant areas and crowding out native species in our region. Wintercreeper spreads both vegetatively and by animal and water dispersed seeds. Because of its known invasive tendencies and difficult to control dispersal mechanisms naturalists recommend against planting this plant.


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates significant amounts of shade. Also tolerates a wide range of soils and soil conditions, except for wet ones. Established plants tolerate some drought. Good tolerance for urban conditions. Stems may root where they touch the ground. May be propagated by rooted stem cuttings. Good tolerance for urban conditions. Trim annually after flowering to maintain attractive shape. Inconspicuous, greenish-white flowers may appear in June.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euonymus fortunei, commonly called wintercreeper euonymus, is a dense, woody-stemmed, broadleaf evergreen to semi-evergreen plant that comes in a variety of forms. It may appear as a trailing ground cover, a mounding shrub or a climbing vine.

Genus name is an ancient Greek name referring to plants of this genus.

Specific epithet honors Scottish horticulturist and plant collector in China Robert Fortune (1812-1880).

'Variegatus' is a variegated intermediate form which is most often grown as a sprawling, bushy, indefinitely-spreading ground cover (6-12" tall). It features lustrous, ovate to elliptic, green leaves (1-2" long) variegated with white. Inconspicuous greenish-white flowers may appear in June. Flowers are at best sparse, but are usually not present. If allowed to climb a wall, tree or other structure, this plant assumes more vine-like characteristics. The cultivar name of 'Variegatus' is often loosely applied in the nursery trade to a number of different variegated forms, many of which are unstable and tend to revert to green or other color combinations over time.


Euonymus scale can be a significant problem and should be treated if it appears. Anthracnose, crown gall, leaf spot, mildew and aphids can also be problems. Can spread invasively into lawns or adjacent garden areas or can climb adjacent structures.

Garden Uses

Where not deemed invasive it can be a versatile ground cover for sunny or shady areas in the landscape. Also effective as an edger along paths or sidewalks, as a slope cover where it can also provide erosion control, as a foundation planting. If used as an ivy-like climbing vine for covering walls, chimneys or fences, it more easily flowers and sets seeds that can increase its invasive spread.