'Emerald Gaiety' Wintercreeper Plant Profile

Ground Cover or Climber: the Choice is Yours

Emerald Gaiety euonymus shrub.

Brian Pettinger/Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

'Emerald Gaiety' is a named cultivar of the Euonymus fortunei plant, a broadleaf evergreen shrub commonly called wintercreeper. It belongs to the staff-tree family, making it a relative of bittersweet vines, and like bittersweet, it can be invasive in some regions. 'Emerald Gaiety' is a tough plant that tolerates drought conditions and the pollution of urban settings. The shrub forms a mounding shape, with branches that sprawl out.It can be grown as a shrub, a spreading ground cover, or a climbing vine.

Like many varieties of E. fortunei, 'Emerald Gaiety' has variegated foliage, but unlike the green and yellow/gold of other cultivars, this one blends green with white margins on its leaves. The creamy white margins take on a pinkish tone in fall as cold weather approaches.

Classified as a shrub/ bush with upright-growing branches, 'Emerald Gaiety' can be planted as a screen or informal hedge if kept trimmed. But it can also be grown as a vine or ground cover if you allow it to grow unchecked. As a ground cover, it is planted in mass and allowed to gradually take over a space through drooping branches that take root where they touch the ground. To grow as a vine, you will need to provide support and be prepared to train the branches and tie them up with twine or tape.

As an evergreen, this shrub holds some potential for visual interest in winter. But if you live in a region that can receive heavy snowfalls, you will want to train it to grow up a support, thus raising it above snow level.

Botanical Name Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety'
Common Names Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper, Emerald Gaiety euonymus, wintercreeper euonymus 
Plant Type Broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size 3 to 5 feet in height, 3- to 6-foot spread
Sun Exposure Full sun to part shade
Soil Type Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
Soil pH Prefers alkaline conditions, 
Bloom Time June
Flower Color Greenish white
Hardiness Zones 5 to 8
Native Area China

How to Grow 'Emerald Gaiety' Euonymus

Grow this shrub in full sun to partial shade. The other members of this species that display green and gold or yellow colors on their leaves tend to have their best color when grown in full sun, but the color is better on Emerald Gaiety euonymus when it receives a bit of shade.​

As with any two-tone, variegated shrub, you will need to be on alert for reversion—new branches appearing that have all-green leaves. These shoots should be pruned off as they appear. Where the long stems touch the ground, they easily root themselves, so you need to be on alert to remove these if you don't want the shrub to spread.

Light

Variegated forms of euonymus such as 'Emerald Gaiety' prefer part shade conditions.

Soil

This plant prefers average, well-drained soil that is somewhat on the alkaline side. It does not do well in wet soil.

Water

Euonymus plants need plenty of water as they are establishing, but once mature they have a good tolerance for drought conditions. A brief rainfall or watering every few weeks is all that's required for mature plants.

Temperature and Humidity

All forms of Euonymus fortunei have a good tolerance for all temperature and humidity variations found throughout their hardiness range. Ice can sometimes cause damage in winter, but the plants easily recover.

Fertilizer

'Emerald Gaiety' generally thrives without any feeding at all. In poor soils, a fall application of fertilizer over the root zone may help the plant's vigor.

Propagating 'Emerald Gaiety' Euonymous

'Emerald Gaiety' is easily propagated with semi-hardwood cuttings:

  1. In late summer or early fall, take an 8- to 12-long cutting that contains both leaves and a portion of hardwood stem. Cut just below a growth node.
  2. Cut the stem into 3- to 4-inch lengths and pull the leaves off the lower half of each segment.
  3. Embed the end of each cutting into a seedling container containing a moistened mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite.
  4. Place the pot in a plastic bag and place it in a spot with bright, indirect light. Periodically remove the pot and check for roots by probing the soil with a knife. When the roots are about 1 inch long (this generally takes about six to eight weeks) remove the pot from the plastic bag and continue growing in bright direct light.
  5. Keep the soil lightly moistened through the winter.
  6. Plant the specimen in the garden the next spring when the danger of frost has passed.

Related Varieties

Other forms of Euonymus fortunei have many of the same virtues as 'Emerald Gaiety' and should also be considered:

  • E. fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold' has green leaves with wide yellow margins.
  • Euonymus fortunei var. radicans is a native of Japan, with plain green leaves.
  • Euonymus fortunei 'Colorado' is a pure groundcover, growing to only 9 inches. The solid green leaves turn purple in fall.

Pruning

Trim away stems that revert to all-green leaves. Shaping pruning should be done immediately after the plant blooms in late spring.

Common Pests/ Diseases

'Emerald Gaiety' euonymus is a tough plant, and the main challenge is to control its spread. For example, the Missouri Botanical Garden recommends against using this plant in landscaping due to its invasive behavior in that region. To control the plant, remove offshoots that root themselves from branches that touch the ground, as well as shoots spreading out from the root ball.

Euonymous plants are quite susceptible to scale insects. If you can catch this problem in time (while the infestation is still minor), repeated sprayings of Neem oil insecticide (it is organic) may do the trick.