Emerald Gaiety Euonymus

May Fortunei Smile Upon You!

Emerald Gaiety euonymus shrub.
Brian Pettinger/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Taxonomy and Botany of Emerald Gaiety Euonymus

Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety' is the way plant taxonomy refers to this plant, the words in single quotes forming the name of the cultivar. "Winter creeper" is sometimes used as a common name for the plants of this species, but "euonymus" is now used widely enough to have become more or less an alternate common name.

Emerald Gaiety euonymus is an evergreen shrub.

More specifically, it is a broadleaf evergreen. It belongs to the staff-tree family, making it a relative of the bittersweet vines.

Characteristics of the Plant

This small evergreen shrub grows to a mature height of 3-5 feet, with a slightly greater spread. Branches grow upright. Despite being classified as a shrub (bush), Emerald Gaiety euonymus can be grown as a vine. If this is how you would like to use the plant in your landscaping, provide support and train it up the support, tying the branches up with twine, etc. The plant is grown for its variegated leaves, which sport green centers and white edges. This is a slow-to-moderate grower.

Planting Zones, Growing Conditions for Emerald Gaiety Euonymus

According to the USDA, the recommended areas for growing this shrub are planting zones 5 to 8.

Grow the shrub in full sun to partial shade. The members of this species that display green and gold colors on their leaves tend to have their best color when grown in full sun.

But many gardeners feel that the color is better on Emerald Gaiety euonymus when it receives a bit of shade.

These shrubs will grow best in a well-drained soil. They need an average amount of water.

Landscaping Uses for Emerald Gaiety Euonymus

As small shrubs, they work well in foundation plantings. Some people use them as ornamental hedge plants ("ornamental" because they are not tall enough to provide privacy).

Massed together, Emerald Gaiety euonymus shrubs can serve as a ground cover. And since they can assume the form of a vine if given support, some homeowners train them up a mailbox post. Indeed, because these plants are tough, tolerating pollution and drought moderately well, they are effective in mailbox plantings.

Care for the Bush

One thing to watch out for when you grow Emerald Gaiety euonymus (and other two-toned types, as well) is reversion. That is, the shrub over time will likely try to revert back to the way the species plant looks and push out new branches with leaves that are all green. Prune off those shoots when you find them.

Attacks of scale insects are another thing to keep an eye out for. If you can catch this problem in time (while it is still minor), repeated sprayings of Neem oil insecticide (it is organic) may do the trick.

Potential Problems

The branches of Emerald Gaiety euonymus often root where they make contact with the soil. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is good in the sense that, if you are using it as a ground cover, it will spread and fill in an area nicely, so that weeds will not gain a foothold. But this fact also means that the plant is potentially invasive, depending on the region in which you live.

Outstanding Features of Emerald Gaiety Euonymus Shrubs

Generally speaking, the strong point of this shrub is its bright, cheerful color pattern. Being an evergreen, it holds some potential for visual interest in winter. But if you live in a region that can receive heavy snowfalls in winter, you have to take measures to make sure that the plant will be visible in winter.

To take advantage of the plant's winter potential, you will want to train it to assume the form of a vine by growing it up a support (thus raising it above snow level). The leaves of Emerald Gaiety euonymus and related plants in the E. fortunei species (see below) often get some pink color in them in winter, making them even more colorful than during the other three seasons of the year. There is a reason, after all, why "winter creeper" is a common name for these shrubs.

On a practical level, one admires their versatility. They can be grown in sun or shade. And their ability to function as shrubs, vines or ground covers means that you, as the grower, have a number of arrows to pull from your landscaping quiver thanks to just one plant.

Other Types of E. Fortunei

If you like this plant, then "fortune" smiles upon you, as there are other cultivars of the species, E. fortunei that are often available at garden centers, including:

The color pattern on 'Silver Queen' is similar, but the plant has bigger leaves. Meanwhile, the color pattern on the other two shrubs listed above is green and gold, rather than green and white.

Another well-known species in this genus is E. alata, the burning bush.