A large genus of deciduous/evergreen shrubs or small trees. Te evergreen species are mainly grown as bushes, ground cover or low hedges. Particularly the variegated kinds, which provide attractive foliage all year round. Deciduous species usually form large shrubs or trees that produce attractive fruits and colourful autumn foliage.

Family: Celastraceae
Botanical Name: Euonymus
Common Names: Spindle, spindle berry, spindle tree, cat tree, catwood, wintercreeper.

Foliage: Evergreen or deciduous, simple oval leaves. Many good variegated evergreens are available. Deciduous forms provide good autumn colour.

Flowers: Small flowers, sometimes followed by colourful fruits.

Flowering Period: Summer.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in a north, south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Shrub or small tree.

Origin: Europe, Asia, America and Australia.

Toxicity: All parts are mildly toxic if ingested. The fruits are poisonous.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK. Some creeping evergreens may not be hardy in severe winters.

Planting and Growing Euonymus

Euonymus is a low maintenance, easy to grow, shrub or small tree. Best grown in sun or partial shade in any reasonable, well drained, garden soil. Most species will happily grow in difficult clay or chalky soils, north-facing positions and will even tolerate drought once established. However, they dislike waterlogged conditions. Variegated evergreen forms need some sun to maintain their variegation.

Plant outside in early autumn or spring. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year.

E. japonicus is tolerant of pollution and a good choice for coastal gardens.

Taking Care of Euonymus

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established.

Pruning Euonymus

Pruning is not necessary, except to tidy-up the plants and remove any damaged wood or overlong shoots. Most species can be cut back hard in the spring, should they become unkempt or too large.

Trim hedges in May and early autumn. Cut out any plain green reverted shoots on variegated forms.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by caterpillars, aphids, euonymus scale and vine weevil.

The leaves can be affected by powdery mildews and a leaf spot.

Propagating Euonymus

Plant semi-ripe cuttings in summer or take heeled hard-wood cuttings in autumn, and root in a cold frame. Alternatively layer low lying branches in early summer.

Pot-up sections of creeping varieties that have self-rooted.

Seed of E. europaeus can be sown in March under cover.

Popular Varieties of Euonymus


Euonymus alatus (winged spindle, burning bush) is a large spreading deciduous shrub, with corky-winqed stems. The dark-green oval leaves turn a bright rosy-crimson in autumn. Small, greenish flowers are followed by purplish-red fruits. Available at Gardening Express. Good cultivars include: 'Compactus' a dwarf shrub with a neat compact habit. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Euonymus europaeus (spindle tree) is a small deciduous tree with spectacular autumn foliage and rose-pink or rosy-red fruits. Small yellow-green flowers in May-June. Height to 12ft or more. Cultivar 'Red Cascade' is a smaller more vivid form with heavy clusters of larger, rose-pink fruits. Available at Thompson & Morgan. Available at Van Meuwen.

Euonymus hamiltonianus (Hamilton's spindletree, Himalayan spindle) is a large shrub or small, multi-stemmed tree with green foliage that turns to pale gold in autumn. Cultivar 'Koi Boy' has creamy white seed capsules which split apart to reveal scarlet red seeds. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Euonymus phellomanus is an RHS AGM winning shrub with interesting corky, winged branches bearing greenish-yellow flowers in spring followed by pink, 4-lobed fruits in autumn. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Euonymus planipes produces scarlet fruits which crack open as they mature to reveal eye-catching orange seeds. Available at Thompson & Morgan.


Euonymus fortunei is a hardy creeping evergreen. Excellent as ground-cover. Good cultivars include:

'Emerald 'n' Gold' bright golden variegated leaves and good winter colour. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread to 3ft ft (90cm). Available at Thompson & Morgan. Available at Van Meuwen.

'Emerald Gaiety' is an attractive variegated form in silvery-yellow. Height to 39in (100cm), spread to 59in (150cm). RHS Award of Garden Merit. Available at Gardening Express. Available at Van Meuwen.

'Blonde Beauty' has leathery creamy-yellow leaves with green margins and forms a dense compact shrub, ideal for borders, containers, low hedging and ground cover. Available at Thompson & Morgan. Available at Van Meuwen.

'Blondy' is a compact, evergreen shrub with two toned leaves of golden yellow with dark green edges. Height and Spread to 2ft (60cm). Available at Thompson & Morgan. Available at Gardening Express.

'Coloratus' purple leaves in winter.

'Dan's Delight' is a low-growing bright evergreen with blend of grey-green and creamy white foliage. Available at Gardening Express.

'Harlequin' a dwarf evergreen that produces young white shoots, which turn to variegated silver and green. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread to 3ft (90cm). Available at Gardening Express. Available at Van Meuwen.

'Minimus' is a very low growing form with mid-green evergreen leaves. Height to 4in (10cm), with quite a large spread. Ideal as groundcover. Available at Gardening Express.

'Radicans' shiny, dark green oval leaves.

'Silver Queen' creamy yellow to green leaves with white irregular margins.

Euonymus japonicus is an dense evergreen shrub with attractive dark glossy green leaves. Ideal for formal hedges. Slow growing. Good in coastal gardens. Height to 10ft (3m). Available at Thompson & Morgan. Good varieties include: 'Aureus' which has bright yellow leaves narrowly margined with green. 'Ovatus Aureus' has wide yellow leaf-edges and green centres. 'Green Rocket' has a good upright habit that naturally forms a dense column. Available at Thompson & Morgan. 'Happiness' is a small slow growing evergreen with very attractive foliage. The new leaves appear pale green, fading to shades of yellow. Available at Gardening Express. Microphyllus Aureovariegatus is a handsomely variegated variety with strongly variegated yellow and green leaves. Available at You Garden.

Euonymus 'Marieke' is a larger leaved Euonymus with two-tone dark green and gold variegated leaves all year round. Available at You Garden.