Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus'
Common Name: wintercreeper euonymus 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Celastraceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Greenish white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Tolerate: Black Walnut


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, creeping to mounding, broadleaf evergreen to semi-evergreen subshrub that will also climb using adventitious roots. Native to East Asia where it can be found in forests, thickets, and scrublands. It may appear as a trailing ground cover, a mounding shrub or a climbing vine. This adaptable plant has escaped cultivation and is considered highly invasive in much of the eastern United States where it smothers and out competes native vegetation.

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).

'Coloratus', commonly called purple wintercreeper euonymus, is primarily a trailing ground cover form which typically grows to 6-9" tall and spreads indefinitely by rooting stems as a sprawling, tangled, bushy mat. It is similar in habit to English ivy (Hedera helix) in that it spreads along the ground, rooting as it goes, until it reaches a vertical surface which it then begins to climb. It features lustrous, ovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (1-2" long) which turn dark purple in fall and winter. 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 and is more likely to produce flowers, though still sparse and inconspicuous. 'Coloratus' is sometimes sold as Euonymus fortunei var. coloratus. It is one of the most popular evergreen ground covers available in commerce today.


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.


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.