Content Detail

Wintercreeper is a fast-growing, versatile ground cover, shrub, or vine. Many different cultivars are available. Wintercreeper should be used with care as it is considered invasive in some locations.

  • Family (English) Staff-tree
  • Family (botanic) Celastraceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover, Shrub, Vine
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Low-growing plant (under 6 inches), Small plant (6-12 inches), Medium plant (12-24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Creeping, Mounded, Vining
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and Method of Climbing (vine); method of spreading (ground cover): 

As a groundcover, this plant generally grows 6 to 12 inches high and up to 2 to 3 feet high as mounded shrubs. It is a trailing-rooting ground cover. Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system. These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil. New shoots will be formed at the point where rooting occurs.

As a vine, it is a clinging vine that can spread 10 to 20 feet. Clinging vines attach themselves directly to a surface by means of holdfasts (adhesive discs) or by small aerial roots. This type of vine grows best on a flat surface, such as stone, masonry walls, and wood.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native to China.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Simple, opposite, evergreen leaves are oval shaped with toothed margins and about 1 inch long.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Flowers are inconspicuous and occur only on adult forms.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Pinkish-red capsules that open to reveal seeds with an orange coating (aril).

Plant care:

Grows in full sun to dense shade. Tolerant of most soils except extremely wet. This species has become invasive in some areas.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Euonymus scale is a common and serious insect problem. Crown gall (bacterium) , anthracnose, leaf spots, mildew, and aphids can all be problems for this species.

Baby wintercreeper  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Minimus’):  

Growing 1 to 1½ feet high and 6 feet wide, this smaller size cultivar also has leaves that are smaller than those of the species, growing only 1/4 to 1/2 inch long.

Big-leaved  wintercreeper  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Vegetus’): 

This creeping form grows 2 to 4 feet high and up to 6 feet wide. It has bright green leaves. Although very cold hardy, it is also very susceptible to scale.

Canadale Gold wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Canadale Gold’):

Compact, irregular, and mounded, this  form has spreading stems. The leaves are glossy green with golden-yellow margins.

Emerald Gaiety wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’):  

Reaching 3 to 4 high and 4 to 5 feet wide, this cultivar has dark green leaves with white margins which take on a reddish tinge in winter.

Emerald ‘n’ Gold wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’): 

At 3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide, this plant bears bright green leaves with broad golden margins. The leaf color is best in full sun and takes on a reddish tinge in winter.

Glossy wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Carrierei’):  

This cultivar can grow 6 to 8 feet high and wide in an irregular, mounded form with spreading stems. Deep green leaves are a backdrop for abundant, showy fruits that are about 1/3 inch in diameter, with greenish-red covers that open up when ripe to expose yellow-orange seeds.

Gold Prince wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Gold Prince’):

Bright green young leaves are variegated with bright golden tips, aging to solid green. This very hardy cultivar grows to 3 feet high and wide.

Moonshadow little-leaved wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Moonshadow’):  

This form grows 2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 5 feet high. Variegated leaves have glossy green margins and bright-yellow centers.

Purple leaved wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’):

Growing 1 to 1½ feet high and 6 feet wide, this cultivar has glossy green leaves with purple undersides. The leaves turn purple in late autumn and winter.

Sarcoxie wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Sarcoxie’):

A common cultivar, Sarcoxie grows 4 to 5 feet high and wide. It has dark green leaves with whitish veins.


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