euonymus emerald gaietyEuonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and ‘Emerald Gold’ are 2 very common shrubs.  In many ways the two are similar in form.  You’ll often see both used as a low, mounded shrub either at the front of a garden or as an area groundcover.

Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ has the distinct capability to climb when planted next to a structure.

In this first picture is ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and further down the stone wall   is ‘Emerald Gold’.

The loose, straggley growth on top is typical and perhaps in a larger open space this “wildness” would be OK.  For example, used on a slope as a groundcover this “rambling” habit would be great.

However, in other gardens  you may want to prune for a neater look.  In this situation the Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ is overpowering the azalea behind it.  Let’s bring it back to scale, but keep that natural form.

How To Prune

As always, the best method of pruning any plant to maintain a “natural” appearance is to prune “selectively” – that is, by hand, single cuts with hand pruners.

Some of you are probably saying, “Are you kidding, I have too many to prune selectively”.  I hear you.  There’s a point of practicality where you have to make a judgement call.  In this case it’s not the end of the world if you shear the plants to make a monstrous task more doable.

These next 2 pictures show selective pruning on the Euonymus ‘Emerald Gold’.  I pruned the ‘Emerald Gaiety’ the same way.

Select the longest growth that extends beyond the main body of the plant and follow it down into the plant.  There, among the denser growth make your cut just above a leaf or lateral branch.

This last picture shows the Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ after it was pruned selectively. Notice how the “natural” form was maintained, but the plant is neater and more in scale with the azalea behind it.euonymus 'emerald gaiety'

  • Jason
    6:04 PM, 24 July 2010

    I have no luck with this plant. They either die or look like… I’ll take a low juniper any day.

    • Roger
      9:11 PM, 24 July 2010

      You’re not alone – I know many in the trade that feel the same way. In fact you sound like you’re in the business.

      This plant, and in fact other euonymus too, are susceptible to a bunch of problems such as: aphids, crown gall, powdery mildew, etc. One of the most common problems is scale (an insect).

      It’s such a shame because its got some nice qualities. I’m just real particular about where I use it because if the location is not “ideal”, the plant easily becomes predisposed to these problems. One example of this is wet areas. They do not like being constantly wet.

      You’re right, comparatively most junipers are more reliable. It’s smart you’ve recognized this weakness and have changed your planting strategy.

  • Jennifer
    12:33 PM, 5 September 2010

    I have four of them in front of my townhouse, they have been there 5 years. They do look wonderful year round, but I have to hand prune them constantly. They grow shoots like crazy, and starting mid-September the shoots will climb the fence 2′ away and literally strip the paint off the fence. They require constant vigilance to look good, but if you don’t want to touch it or water it or do anything, it will grow like crazy. I live in Hardiness Zone 6, just north of Washington DC, and they are Green & Gold planted facing directly East. They get full sun all day, I never mulch or water them even in drought conditions, and weeds won’t come near them. If you like to prune, this is the plant for you. If not, and you don’t like it to look scraggly, buy a boxwood, because managing them is a Sisyphean task.

    • Roger
      7:27 PM, 5 September 2010

      Hey Jennifer,
      Like so many plants, you have to take the good with the bad. The Euonymus that I pictured in this post also get pruned a few times during the season to keep up with the growth.

      Sharing your experience with this plant is so great – it’s how we learn about things with plants and in the landscape that books can’t provide. There’s no substitute for the knowledge from experience.
      Thank you,

  • Martha
    12:07 PM, 28 February 2011

    I have quite a few Emerald and Gold Euonymus that I transplanted to a new location last spring. During the spring, summer, and fall they looked terrible. Many leaves browned and dropped. Now that spring is coming, I’d like advice on reviving them.

    • Roger
      10:21 PM, 28 February 2011

      Hi Martha,

      Did I just reply to another question of yours on boxwood? Thank you for your comments!

      Although these Eunoymus can be temperamental and problematic, without seeing them it’s very hard to give a definitive answer as to why they’re struggling. The fact that all or most of them are struggling tells me it either has to do with the new location or universally something was wrong with or during the transplanting.

      Is the new location much different than where they were? Were they thriving before you transplanted them?

      I’m concerned too that if they are struggling, perhaps some other pest may have gotten on them. Stressed plants often succumb to other pests, and Eunoymus do have some typical problems like scale, crown gall, powdery mildew, aphids, etc. Is there a nursery nearby with knowledgeable staff you could bring a sample to? Here is the website for the agricultural extension services throughout the country . I use the one here in NJ when I can’t give a definite diagnosis myself. The samples I send in are analyzed and they send/fax me the results. Great service!

      I wish I could be more helpful.

  • Annette
    10:25 AM, 30 March 2011

    Thanks for the info and the before and after pictures. Those were inspiring. I have several that haven’t been pruned in decades (seriously)so you can imagine how they look. Am looking forward to getting them to a nicer, neater appearance. I live in a semi-arid climate so fortunately haven’t had to worry with the pests you mentioned, plus I like that I don’t have to water them – ever.

    • Roger
      10:30 PM, 30 March 2011

      Hi Annette,
      It sounds like your Euonymus are doing well – they obviously love the conditions you have there. Here in the northeast site conditions vary dramatically, including exposure, soil, etc. If we don’t match the ideal conditions to these Euonymus they’re not happy. But I must say, when conditions are right they are beautiful.
      Good luck with your pruning them!

  • Christine
    11:31 AM, 1 May 2011

    Hi Roger, appreciate the pictures. I have an Emerald Gaiety that is growing crazy up against the house. I prefer to leave plants in their natural state, but I admit this one needs to be pruned. Thanks for info on that. Question, I would hate to just “throw out” the pruned cuttings, is there anyway I can root them to start a new plant? If so, do I put the stems in water to root or dirt? Thanks for any info!

    • Roger
      9:22 PM, 1 May 2011

      Hi Christine,
      We use to root pachysandra and ivy cuttings for our work, but later started buying it because of the volume we were using. Back then we simply took plastic flats, filled them with sand (not too fine though), stuck the ends of our cuttings (4 – 6″ long) into the sand, placed the flats in a shady protected area and kept them moist.

      After a few weeks start checking to see if they’re rooting. Once they have some roots you could replant them into a loose soil/peat/sand mix (4″ pot or similar), grow them on for awhile (a few months) and then plant them in the ground. Frankly, if they have enough root from the first stage of rooting in the sand, you could go right into the ground. But keep an eye on them until they root into the native soil. Be careful they don’t dry out.
      Good luck!

  • Cynde
    3:00 PM, 21 May 2011

    Mine have been in the ground for about 5 years and the deer do a great job of pruning them, maybe too good!

    • Roger
      8:47 PM, 21 May 2011

      Hi Cynde,
      I hope the deer aren’t over-pruning for you.

      Deer can be a relentless pest. I find myself having to design using deer-resistant plants more and more.

      As you probably know there are all kinds of remedies out there for deer browsing. I recently read an article about a systemic control that gets taken up into the plants system so when deer taste it they stop browsing. It’s called Repellex.

      We have not tried it yet so I can’t comment on how well it works.

  • Alison
    8:01 AM, 24 May 2011

    I have a bunch of these as part of my landscaping and I am not sure what to do with them!! They are 2 years old now and don’t seem to have grown much at all. They are still so narrow and stick-ish that I’m afraid to prune them. I’m afraid it will make them look even smaller! Is this one of those plants that will get more “bushy” if I bite the bullet and prune? I like the color of them and they don’t have signs if any of the insects or other ailments that have been mentioned, so I would just like to help them look more substantial!

    • Roger
      10:05 PM, 24 May 2011

      It’s always hard to diagnose a plant problem without seeing the plant. Were they “narrow and stick-ish” when you bought them? Are there other plants in the same area that are doing well?…If so what are those plants? What’s the soil condition?…Is it heavy and/or compacted. Is the soil wet? What’s the exposure?…Sun, shade, etc.? Are they planted correctly?…not too deep I hope.

      After 2 years there should be some growth. If the plant is just languishing I suspect something with the soil condition (too heavy, too wet), planting method (too deep).

      Is there a nursery/garden center in your area with a plant specialist you could show a sample to? Sometimes it takes a trained eye to see something you may not. How about contacting the state or local agricultural extension service in your area? They’ll probably ask you to send a sample “somewhere” (usually one of their state universities) for exact diagnosis.

      Please comment back if you’d like.

  • Jo
    2:14 PM, 2 June 2011

    Hi Roger,

    Is there something that can be done to prevent the “pests” that tend to affect these plants before they become a problem? I just purchsed two and now I am getting nervous about protecting them. Thanks!

    • Roger
      9:40 PM, 2 June 2011

      Poor planting conditions like these stress the plant and predispose it to pests and disease.

      Scale (an insect) seems to be one of the more common pests euonymus get. There’s an insecticide called imidacloprid that works systemically (within the plant’s system) and controls scale. It’s just now available to the general public. Sometimes it’s labeled Merit, but I think the homeowner version is Bayer Advanced.

      Look for a good location to plant them and be careful not to over-water.

  • Leigh
    11:05 PM, 5 June 2011

    We have three of these bushes that are all doing well, except that they are growing more like ground cover than bushes. We would be interested in trying to get them to climb or any other strategy that would help them grow more in height. We have not pruned them at all, and have had them for about 3 years. Do you have any suggestions for climbing structures?

    • Roger
      9:51 AM, 6 June 2011

      Once euonymus like these have something to cling to they’ll usually engulf it. If your plants are away from anything to climb try this: Get some welded wire fence at Home Depot (or any hardware store). Make sure it’s a strong enough gauge wire so as not to bend and collapse easily. The openings or spaces in the fence should not be too big…maybe 1″ x 1″ or 1″ x 2″. Cut a section of fence that you can roll (and secure) into a circle to make a collar or tube that would fit over the euonymus. The diameter of the collar can vary depending on how broad the plant is right now. The height of the collar can vary too – I guess it depends somewhat on how tall you want the plants to eventually be. 2′ sounds reasonable to me.

      Make sure you secure the fence-collars to the ground in some way. Perhaps drive two stakes into the ground (opposite each other) and secure the collar to them.

      The euonymus will grow up, into and through the wire fence collar. In time you will not see the collar, but rather a larger growing euonymus.

  • Jo
    9:02 AM, 6 June 2011

    Would it be wise to add some cactus soil when planting to prevent too much water?

    • Roger
      9:35 AM, 6 June 2011

      Jo, the soil requirements for a shrub like euonymus are different than for cactus. Fundamentally euonymus requires a more “complete” soil make-up with top soil containing organic matter.

      I don’t have any experience with cacti, but know that their growing medium is typically more inert and porous (although it does vary depending on the specie).

      If the general area/soil you’re planting euonymus is compacted, heavy and consistently wet, even amending the soil may not help. If the area/soil seems fairly decent, but you’d like a little more assurance it’s well-drained, I don’t see any harm in adding some cactus mix to the existing soil.

  • Leigh
    11:09 PM, 6 June 2011

    Thanks for much for the advice! We’ll give it a try!

  • Kori
    2:03 AM, 1 July 2011

    I live in Portland, OR and just tonight rescued a euonymus off of craigslist. I’m not an expert on transplanting, and I just dug it out, saving about 1.5 feet of roots. All the dirt just fell off of it. In relocating the plant, what considerations should I take to ensure the survival of this gorgeous varigated euonymus? I’d love to plant it on the north side of our house where it could climb a latticed wall, but I’m afraid it might not get enough sun to balance the amount of water we get here in the northwest. It was previously in full sun placement.

    • Roger
      11:03 PM, 3 July 2011

      I have grown Euonymus ‘Gaiety’ in limited light. In fact, it can cause a nice effect in that the plant is less vigorous in growth so it takes on a different, more delicate character. It’s going to depend on just how dark this north side is of yours. Perhaps some early morning sun sneaks in there for an hour or two of stronger light – or maybe some late afternoon sun.

      You mentioned it had been growing in full sun, so there’s going to be some acclimating for the plant. Good point you bring up about the wet conditions of the NW. How is the soil?. Does it drain readily? This is so important. They don’t mind moisture if it drains off and the soil is not heavy (clay). If you have to, amend the soil with organic matter like peat to improve the soil structure. Amending the soil can help to some degree, but inherently heavy soil is just that and will make it difficult for the Euonymus to survive.

  • Andrea
    11:58 AM, 17 July 2011

    I got a euonymus from someone who threw it out. It was kept in front of a house an was cut in a round ball form. They hated the plant and I collect bushes for the large backyard I have and I thought this one growing fast would be great. However last winter a rabbit chewed the entire bush back to 2 feet. I thought the snow was high enough to protect it but unfortunately it was already under the snow because I didn’t notice the rabbit in time. There were no leaves or buds left by the spring and when the snow melted that’s when it was obvious how much damage was done.
    I want to prune it. The bush has branches that grow in all directions. Most of them curve and have branches that grow out and it looks stupid and wild. The leaves are coming back. I would like to know if I can cut it back to the base and if I do will it grow straight arms like the forsythia or the weigela, or if this is a different kind of bush? One thing I don’t like is a bush with octopus arms that make it top heavy and bare on the bottom. I would like a regular shape, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfectly round like a topiary, just want to get it back to shape. The way it is right now is not working. I can’t even get it to climb because the branches curve.

    • Roger
      10:46 PM, 17 July 2011

      Hi Andrea,
      I’m presuming you have one of the Euonymus fortunei varieties like: ‘Emerald Gold’ or ‘E. Gaiety’ (like in the article). If so their natural form is mounded. They’ll get to be 2′ or so in height if not pruned. Their growth habit is mostly horizontal so they will get wider than tall.

      These plants respond to cutting back and rejuvenate pretty well. I’d recommend you wait until early spring before cutting back. There are stored carbohydrates in the current growth which help sustain the plant through the rest of the year.

      In the spring, cut it back to approximately 12″. It should push new growth and leaf “and have a new start”. I’d suggest using hand pruners and try to make “selective” cuts like I describe in the article.

      Good luck! I like the fact that you “rescue” plants. I’ve done a fair share of that myself and the results can be amazing and rewarding.

  • richard 446
    3:48 PM, 22 August 2011

    hi…i was just gifted 4 emerald gaity plants by a stranger and have no idea what to do with them…is august 22 too late to plant ?

    • Roger
      8:30 PM, 22 August 2011

      Not at all Richard. Whether they are from a nursery and in plastic containers or just dug out (transplanted) from someone’s yard, it’s best to get them planted. Actually, the sooner you get them planted, the sooner they will root before winter…and that’s a good thing.

      Euonymus will certainly take sun, but if you can give them a little shade during the day that would be great. Morning sun (eastern exposure) is best.

      And once in the ground be careful not to over-water them.

      Also, be careful not to plant too deep. Set the roots in the ground so the top of the root ball is slightly higher than the existing grade. Better to plant too high than too deep.

  • Barb
    4:21 AM, 26 August 2011

    I have 3 euonymus gaiety. Two are quite small with just a few branches. The 3rd is about 18″ tall. It has MANY branches which grow straight up and very tightly. I have to separate them to see down into the plant. How do you suggest I prune it so it will be more bushy? It is in an open south area.

    • Roger
      9:14 PM, 27 August 2011

      Hi Barb,
      The one eunoymus you have that’s growing well should be pruned just like I describe in the article. The “straight-up” dominant growth it has is typical. Since you only have one plant like this, it should not be too big a task to “selectively” prune back these dominant stems into the general body of the plant. When you do this each year some of this energy will be redirected to the lateral (horizontal) growth and the plant will become wider and more rounded in form.

  • Barb
    11:33 PM, 27 August 2011

    Roger, do I reach inside the center area of the plant to prune? I’m rather looking forward to seeing how it will look!!!
    Thanks for your help 🙂

    • Roger
      10:03 AM, 28 August 2011

      Barb, just follow each of the long stems down past the height and shape you want the plant to be. Make your “selective” cut (i.e. just above a leaf) there.

      Your goal is to make the cut slightly below surrounding, softer growth so the cut is somewhat hidden.

  • Jim
    9:45 PM, 20 October 2011

    From an established Euonymus Gold am I able to take cuttings from plant and start new growth with the fresh cuttings? If so, what are the steps to take and what time of the year is best to try this? I live in Louisville, KY.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Roger
      11:09 AM, 21 October 2011

      First, I should tell you I have little experience with propagation. Years ago we did propagate ground cover cuttings like pachysandra, ivy, etc., but that’s about it. Now, we purchase all our plant material.

      I did take a course in propagation in college, but that was 35 years ago. I do remember all the different conditions and methods we worked under depending upon the type of plant. And although you can sometimes have success with a couple of different methods for one plant type, there’s always the one method that works best.

      Here’s what I would do. Contact the Agricultural Extension Service in your area. Here’s the webpage for Kentucky. I use the Extension Service occasionally in NJ, and they are always so helpful. If they can’t give you specific advice on the topic, they”ll usually direct you to a source for that info. These services are setup to help everyone get answers to their agricultural/horticultural questions. They’re connected to the agricultural schools and colleges in the state so that helps get answers to your questions.

  • Bill Pritchard
    10:40 PM, 14 November 2011

    this is the first time on this site and I have learned a lot reading the questions and answers. I have one. I take care of some landscape,and have some euonymus that are tuning solid green. would trimming back And how far take care of this. Thank you. Bill

    • Roger
      8:43 AM, 15 November 2011

      If you see solid green leaves on the newer growth (exterior) of the variegated plant, it is “reverting” back to its original form. Pruning out this solid green growth is normally what you’d do to counter this “reversion”. However, this could be a daunting task depending on how many plants you may have to do this to.

      Here’s a post I did on “reversion” that will give you more information.

      And thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad you’re finding my articles helpful.

  • Shirley
    3:43 PM, 11 March 2012

    I recently bought a home from a young couple who really were not ready for home ownership. For several years the elderly resident did NO pruning of the junipers or globe arbortivae. A young clueless couple bought the house from the estate and for some reason ripped out all the rose bushes and planted Azaleas (four different varieties) but left junipers under the windows and the old rhododendron on the corner of the house but planted an Emerald ‘n Gold between it and a very old juniper. Everything is planted way to close and now overgrown. New growth had been left unchecked for four years so the center of everything is old wood. I want to take a chain saw to all of it but but can’t afford a complete redo. I am wondering how hard can I prune the Azaleas and the Emerald ‘n Gold? I do plan to remove the junipers. thanks.

    • Roger
      10:07 AM, 12 March 2012

      I think it’s smart to remove the old junipers.

      The old Rhodo. might be working well as a larger corner plant, I’d have to see it. Rhodos. can be renovated by cutting back strategically. They’ll then push new growth in lower areas.

      For the azaleas and euonymus I’m thinking you could transplant them to give them more room (rather than cut them back severely). They’ll move quite easily being that they have very fibrous root systems. Spring is also a good time for transplanting.
      You can prune them pretty hard too if you wish. They’ll rejuvenate over time with new lower growth. I’d consider the transplant route first, and then resort to hard pruning if necessary.

      Please realize that these decisions take a number of things into consideration and w/o seeing the actual plantings, i.e. size of plants, their condition, spacing, etc., it’s difficult to give you my best recommendations.

  • Shirley
    10:44 AM, 12 March 2012

    Thanks Roger

    The Rhodo on the corn looks like maybe original planting from 1960’s. The wood is gray and approx 2-3″ diameter. The shrub is 5-6′ branches that seem to sprawl haphazardly with virtually no branching for the first 2-3 ‘ of the main limbs. That’s why I though a haircut at 10-12″ from ground and let the root system shoot new growth that I could begin to prune in future years.

    Yes the junipers are being removed. I really don’t have a spot for the Emerald ‘n Goldand given the size of this thing it will take my small chain sawto cut. maybe try to train upright and salvage?

    The Azaleas are also very old with main brabching 2″ or so. Like the rhodo, the center and lower portions are bare and unsightly. What I’d like to do is give both Rhodo and Azaelas a close haircut, loosen the soil and feed with root blast and a could fertizings through the summer.

    Then for this season plant larger annuals to fill in the bare spots

  • Shirley
    10:47 AM, 12 March 2012

    I forgot to mention, the young couple planted several smaller Azaleas around the older ones to “hide” the bare spots? those Azaleas I plan to move-

  • Kathy
    12:51 PM, 5 April 2012

    I have 6 very well established euonymous gold in an island that have been pruned over the years to be big “yellow balls”. I’d like to get them back to their native look. Right now they’re about 4 feet tall and of course all the leaves are on the outside. How far back can I cut them to establish new growth without killing them? I don’t want to do any permanent damage as the shrubs are healthy and disease free. Thanks!

    • Roger
      11:54 AM, 7 April 2012

      Hi Kathy,
      Euonymus will rejuvenate when cut back hard. However, since these plants seem to be in a prominent location, you might like to go about it in stages.

      The first tactic I’d take would be to thin the plant out a bit to get more light and air circulation. This will also improve conditions for the plant to set new buds lower on the stems. To do this select stems (usually the older ones) and follow them down towards the base. Make a selective cut where that stem joins another, or cut directly at the base. Using your judgement do this to several stems to universally thin the overall plant.

      The next step (and you could do this at the same time) would be to shorten the remaining stems down to a point where there is still some foliage remaining. This will keep the plants somewhat attractive.

      Now you’ll have to see how the plant responds to this first phase during the current growing season. You should start to see some budding and new stems forming lower in the plant.

      From this point on do all your pruning selectively with hand pruners (not shears). Continue to keep the plant thinned out, and continue to prune the terminal ends so the plant is encouraged to put all its energy down lower.

      If you need the plant to be lower in height, you’ll have to make stronger cuts to the existing stems. But do this as the plant recovers and fills-in. Again, this may be a process that takes 2 or 3 growing seasons.

  • Lori
    10:49 AM, 9 April 2012

    Hi Roger, I am so happy to have found this forum. I have an Emerald and Gold Euonymous that I planted as a baby, about ten years ago. I have pruned it somewhat each year to keep the size and shape desired in check. I would like to transplant it now to my backyard, but I am quite nervous about it. Currently, it stands about 40″ tall and equally as wide. The lighting conditions will be nearly identical in it’s new location, although I am not sure about the soil. Any and all suggestions and advice on how and/or if to do this will be greatly appreciated!

    • Roger
      2:40 PM, 13 April 2012

      Hi Lori,
      First, let me say it’s difficult to give specific advice on whether to transplant a plant without seeing it (in real life).

      The fact that it’s been in the same spot for 10 years tells me its root system has grown quite a bit. And without “root-pruning” (what nurseries do) you can expect to lose a fair amount of that root mass when you go to transplant it.

      As a contractor I’d probably give it go because: 1) I would go about it very carefully, after all I am a professional 🙂 and 2) it’s not a very valuable/costly plant. If it should fail it would not be expensive to replace. I do appreciate the fact you may have a sentimental attachment to the plant and you’ll, no doubt, factor that into your decision.

      Here’s a post I did on transplanting that might help you with your decision. I have a few other articles on transplanting too.

  • Mary
    3:33 PM, 16 April 2012

    We have 4 Emerald Gaiety 2 on each side of the property, they were planted by the previous owners in 1998. They have since been infested with spider mites, I have had some luck with the growth coming back after using a bonide product… We have cottoneaster behind them on a slope.. I think I need to just give up on these and plant something else… what is a hardy low maint, disease resistent shrub for zone 5?

    • Roger
      11:44 PM, 16 April 2012

      Hi Mary,
      Yes, there comes a point where the effort (and cost) of caring for a plant becomes unreasonable. This is where proper plant selection comes into play – to minimize these potential problems.

      I don’t know the variety of cotoneaster you have growing, but I’m sure it has the smaller leaf typical of cotoneaster. I was thinking a needle-like textured plant would be a nice complement to the cotoneaster. In addition, I would think you’d not want anything tall. How about something in the juniper family? Most juniper are extremely hardy and you could choose a variety that does not get tall, but grows more horizontally. Here’s a post I did on Gold Coast Juniper. I rarely have problems with this plant. Its finer textured foliage and gold color would work well with the cotoneaster too.

  • Mary
    4:20 PM, 17 April 2012


    Thank You, yes you are right, the cotoneaster is the smaller leaf. I like the juniper idea I will try this. So glad I found this site

  • Suzanne
    3:56 PM, 1 May 2012

    I just purchased four Emerald Gaiety plants to use as a ground cover in front of the deck. They are already sprawling nicely. However, some of the long stems are dipping down into the mulch covering the bare dirt in the bed and arching upward again. Are these stems looking to reroot? Should I leave them be? Or should I keep them from doing this?

    • Roger
      7:54 PM, 1 May 2012

      Hi Suzanne,
      These euonymus will root where running stems occasionally come in contact with soil and mulch. Unless they’re encroaching into areas you’d rather they didn’t, feel free to just leave them be.

      I’m glad you’ve read the post and are now familiar with how to prune these euonymus. Just by selectively tip-pruning the branch & stem ends you can keep the plant compact and full.

      Perhaps you’d prefer to let the plant sprawl and get wider, but keep the height in check. You can allow this type of development just by adjusting your pruning strategy. It’s just amazing how you can influence a plant’s development (and in some cases their health) by proper pruning.

  • Joel
    5:37 PM, 16 May 2012

    I infer from reading all your comments on this site that I do not need to take de-hybridization into consideration when I prune my Emerald ‘n Gold Euonymus. Perhaps I’m thinking of a grafted plant where you don’t want to cut below the graft. Also, I gather that when cutting out the solid green or solid yellow growth, I’m not significantly encouraging more of that same growth. Is that right?
    Many thanks for the site and your assistance,

    • Roger
      9:42 PM, 16 May 2012

      Hi Joel,
      I’m not aware that pruning either Euonymus will jeopardize the plant’s variegation. These are not grafts. Variegation usually originates as a mutation of the solid green parentage. Plant growers then take “cuttings” and root them to continue the variegation.

      Make sure when you remove “reverting” growth, i.e. solid green & yellow, that you remove it in its entirety. Follow the reversion back into the plant and try to make the cut where the stem connects to variegated growth.

  • Allan
    6:08 PM, 8 August 2012

    I live in Rosamond,CA. / Mojave Desert where it is between 100-115F. during the summer and fall with very arid conditions. I have about 8 of the Golden variety. I cant figure out why they burn so much. We have alkaline soil and well water, so I try to lower the soil ph with 16-16-16 granular. Some days they respond to watering every other day with new growth, but it is usually followed by white leathery or crispy brown / rusty leaves. In the winter they do great, summer stinks. Too much or little water? I have the same problem with red tipped photinas also. I have TDS and PH meters and have measured soil run off ph to 7.0 and TDS @200-300 ppm..Frustrated.

    • Roger
      9:15 PM, 8 August 2012

      Hi Allan,
      It’s around 90 degrees in NJ right now and I want to complain, but hearing where you live and the temps…

      My overall feeling is the euonymus is being pushed to its heat tolerance max. Its zone range is 5-8 and when I looked at the zone map you appear to be located in the 8b to 9a zones. This would explain why the plant(s) do better during the cooler months.

      If you wanted a thorough and accurate assessment, you could send both plant and soil samples to your area’s cooperative extension service. Here in NJ Rutgers University handles all the state’s agricultural/horticultural information and problem solving. It’s an excellent service and I use it whenever I’m stuck on a problem. Not only do they diagnose, but in addition offer recommendations and solutions. It looks like your extension service is handled by UC Davis.

  • Joan
    4:18 PM, 9 March 2013

    I have a Emerald Euonymus at the end of my garage should I install a trellis to help it climb? Does this shrub produce flowers?
    You site has been very helpful in showing how this shrub grows.
    Thank you.
    P S. If I do not get it under control it will come out, but I do like.

    • Roger
      8:38 PM, 9 March 2013

      Hi Joan,
      Thanks for leaving your comments and question.

      If you’re looking to have the plant climb on the garage/building itself, the surface should be stone, brick or stucco. Wood siding would not be good.

      If you do have wood or vinyl siding, you could use a trellis positioned several inches away from the building to grow your euonymus on. You’ll need to use “ties” as fasteners to loosely hold and guide some of the branches. In fact, you’ll probably find you’ll occasionally need to help the branches along w/ more “ties” as it grows.

      I’ve purchased this plant in the past as a climbing version. It comes in a container with a small trellis, and twist-ties are used to hold the branches to the trellis. Take care that your ties or fasteners are never tight against the branch stems.

      And where it may be getting out of control, i.e. growing over walkways or spreading throughout the bed, it can be cut back fairly aggressively.

  • Joan
    4:45 PM, 9 March 2013

    Hello Roger, You site has been very helpful in providing information on what I should do to get a better control on my Eunoymus Gaiety. I have had an insect cause trouble, but as spring approaches it appears that the chemical the nursery recommended is working.
    Thank you for your help.

    • Roger
      8:48 PM, 9 March 2013

      Insect problems, particularly scale are common.

      Remember to not over-water this plant. It does not like “wet feet”.

      And since you mentioned getting it under control was a concern, it obviously does not need to be fed. Fertilizing can push growth unnaturally and actually make the plant more susceptible to insect (and other) problems.

  • Jim
    3:20 PM, 16 March 2013

    I have a 50×30 area of golden gaiety and I’m thinking of taking a lawn mower to it to get it under control. Will I kill it? I have used a hedge trimmer in the past and it has done well. Follow up question is what will happen if I just let it go? they are planted around rhodys and I like to keep them low.

    • Roger
      11:10 PM, 16 March 2013

      I don’t think I would use a lawn mower to cut them back. I’d probably use the hedge trimmer again. This way you can control how far down you’ll cut – appreciating the age of the plant and how “woody” and developed the lower branching is. Plus, the hedge trimmers will give a cleaner cut compared to a lawn mower.

      With regard to letting them grow, they would eventually reach a mature height of approximately 1.5 to 2′. And they do ramble so they’ll acquire more area if left unchecked. Some plant health care specialists may have a concern that the euonymus could invade the base of the nearby Rhodos and have an adverse affect. That could be debatable, but it’s probably safer to control the euonymus from growing into the Rhodos.

      I hope this helps.

  • Shirley
    7:45 AM, 17 March 2013

    I’m rejuvenating front foundation, removing some reviving others with an overall new landscape design. I have no trouble shovel pruning juniper, neglected arborvitae and yews, all grown past their time. However, I have an Emerald Gaiety that has overgrown an area approx 6′ diameter. It has completely overtaken the back and front of a shrub border as ground cover. At first I was going to shovel prune, now I’m thinking such robust root system may be worth working with as a climbing vine. Rather than cut back to 10″ from ground, I’m thinking maybe prune off some of the branches, install a trellis behind the plant and us it as a green backdrop to a more colorful shrub. I don’t mind the plant, I just don’t want it sprawling on the ground taking up valuable space for an upright plant that can be visible from the street. Have you any experience with Emerald Gaiety as a climber? Any advice?

    • Roger
      10:34 AM, 17 March 2013

      Hi Shirley,
      I think your idea and strategy with the euonymus is great.

      The times I use Emerald Gaiety as a climber are typically at the base of a masonry, brick or stone wall. It certainly will work on a trellis, but you’ll have to assist it (especially early on) with ties & fasteners. Perhaps as time goes on your help will not be as needed.

  • Shirley
    10:39 AM, 17 March 2013

    thanks Roger, how long will the vines grow? I know sometimes when spindly branches are elevated, they seem to “reach” for the sun. Just wondering how tall the trellis ought to be.

    • Roger
      10:56 AM, 17 March 2013

      From a functional standpoint, I’d think if the trellis was about 5′ high it would work well. Now it could be that you’d like the trellis to be taller because of the design circumstance…and that’s fine. Some trellises are so beautiful they can literally stand on their own.

  • Chris
    4:05 PM, 6 April 2013

    My plants are growing very long stems nad not filling out. What is,the problem?

    • Roger
      5:35 PM, 6 April 2013

      Hey Chris,
      Is it more than one plant reacting the same way?

      Typically, if they are not pruned regularly, dominant growth will happen on the tips (or terminal ends) of a certain percentage of the branches. This causes a more open and sparse looking plant. Less light can cause not as full a plant too.

      Do they appear healthy otherwise?

      Prune them if you haven’t been. And really all it takes to make the plant push growth internally (and fill out) is to cut the tips of the branches. This removes the apical bud at the end and sends a message to the plant to push growth laterally.

  • Carolyn
    1:58 PM, 27 April 2013

    Deer have nearly destroyed the Euonymus. Can I prune severely in the hope it
    will be restored?

    • Roger
      8:33 PM, 27 April 2013

      Hi Carolyn,
      Yes, you certainly can, and it will likely push new growth from the base. Of course you better have some strategy in place to prevent the deer from grazing on it again. I just ordered a deer repellent product called Repellex. It’s a systemic that get absorbed into the plants system and makes the plant unpleasant for the deer to eat. I continue to search for solutions to this ever-growing problem. Today we have a deer presence on almost every landscape project we do. I actually now focus on just using plants that naturally resist deer grazing on my jobs.

  • Brandy
    11:15 AM, 3 May 2013

    I purchased two Emerald Gaiety on clearance on a whim. I can’t decide where to put them as I don’t know much about them. I have an area about 5’x4′ along the side of the house that needs to be filled with some sort of bush. I also have a huge slope in the back yard that is currently covered with grass, but needs a ground cover to stop erosion and cut down on maintenance. I would prefer a short ground cover, though. It’s hard to tell how tall these will be as ground covers. What do you recommend?

    • Roger
      1:48 PM, 19 May 2013

      Hi Brandy,
      The 4 X 5′ area would eventually accommodate the Emerald Gaiety very nicely, but in the beginning it’s going to look rather sparse.

      This plant can get to 4’+, however I’m more familiar with mature plants I’ve seen that are closer to 3′. If you’d prefer a shorter groundcover then I’d not use ‘Emerald Gaiety’. Standard Euonymus fortunei (common name: Wintercreeper), of which E. Gaiety is a cultivar, will stay lower as a groundcover (6 – 12″). Perhaps that would work for you on the slope.

  • Rebecca
    11:10 PM, 20 May 2013

    I have a silver king euonymus that I am trying to get to re-grow from the base. For a year or two I was letting it grow upward hoping to get more “shrub” thinking it just needed more of itself and then I would eventually cut it back. Needless to say this did not work. so I got some books from the library about pruning and cutting and I’ve now cut/pruned and thinned the protruding branches in the hopes of encouraging some new growth from the base. does this sound about right? It is very sparse, if nothing at all, at the base. In your opinion, what is the best way to encourage new growth at the base so i can have a full, euonymus bush? also, what is a good fungicide since i think it may be infected with something.

    • Roger
      4:36 PM, 6 September 2013

      Hi Rebecca,
      To encourage new growth at the base of the plant you’re doing the right thing by pruning back selectively at the top. Thinnning the plant is another good technique you’re practicing.

      I don’t have direct experience with this particular variety, but the general concept is the same for many plants. Now some plants will respond better to this than others – it just comes down to each plant types inherent ability to rejuvenate from the base. But you’re doing the right thing so good luck with that.

      In terms of a recommended fungicide, I would first get the problem diagnosed properly. A nearby garden center or plant nursery may be able to help. And you could always send a sample to your state’s agricultural extension service. These euonymus do have their problems/pests, but make sure you’re applying the right solution. And it could be that the planting conditions are not right and are adversely affecting the plant. A good diagnostician will be asking questions to fully understand the environment the plant is in as this can sometimes be a supporting part to the problem.

  • Marty
    11:28 PM, 20 May 2013

    Hi. I have inherited an old but healthy Emerald ‘n Gold Euonymus.
    At this point it is much more like ground cover than a shrub. We need it to be a shrub. What must I do to get it to grow in that fashion vs. along the ground?

    • Roger
      4:16 PM, 6 September 2013

      The variety of euonymus you have is characteristically a mounded, sprawling plant. Other than tidying up the side branches (by pruning) to give the plant more singular definition, you really can not change its predisposed form.

  • Valerie
    8:36 PM, 30 May 2013

    Thank you!

    2:34 AM, 18 September 2013


    • Roger
      9:06 AM, 18 September 2013

      I’m not that experienced in plant propagation. And it’s been too many years since we covered it in college. I can tell you that euonymus is not difficult to root just by following a few basic steps and then being patient – it does take time.

      I Googled “propagate euonymus” and came up with many sites to visit. The first one was a YouTube video, , which was pretty informative.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  • Maha
    2:26 PM, 27 March 2014

    I have several euonymus bushes but unfortunately the deer ate almost all the leaves this winter (as I guess it was a rough winter for them too). How can I save those bushes by pruning them to encourage growth. I am planning to spray then with bobbex (a natural product). Thanks for any help.

    • Roger
      9:28 PM, 2 April 2014

      Although I don’t think it’s necessary, it would be OK to take your trimming shears and just snip off the jagged ends from the deer. New growth should emerge from the base of the plant this season.

      Good luck with Bobbex. Let us know how it works.

  • Maha
    7:03 PM, 3 April 2014


    Thanks for your reply. I went ahead and trimmed the jagged ends as you had suggested and sprayed them with Bobbex. Will let you know if it will work.
    Thanks again,

  • Bo
    5:29 PM, 18 April 2014

    I have recently move to a new house which has what I have identified as a type of Euonymus shrub. They haven’t been very well tended and we are in the middle of a severe drought here in the Texas panhandle. I hate to remove these hedges since they are well established. Can I prune back to the stumps and create a new hedge? Or if not how far can I prune them? They are about 4 1/2 ft tall and bases are about 2 feet out from wall of house. I’d appreciate any advice you can offer!

    • Roger
      11:57 PM, 27 April 2014

      I would approach this pruning a bit cautiously. It looks like the Texas panhandle has plant zones 6 and 7. So you’re a little ahead of where I am in terms of plant growth. But I’m especially concerned about the drought you’re having.

      If you do any aggressive pruning you’ll want consistent moisture for the plant, or else it’s just going to be more stressed and less likely to recover.

      If you can water the plants consistently (e.g. twice / week), I would prune back approximately 6″ or so this time. But more importantly, I’d thin the plants out by selectively pruning some of the thicker, older stems back into the center and lower portion of the plant. This will start to let more light and air into the plant, and potentially push some interior growth and maybe even some at the base.

      Next early spring, and hopefully not in a drought, you could go at it again and lower the plant even more.

  • Bo
    10:38 AM, 28 April 2014

    Thanks for the advice, Roger…. I will give this a try. I am able to provide the watering at this time, but we are liable to be put on restrictions at any time, so for this year anyway I will be a bit more cautious. Thanks again for taking the time for us!

  • Debi
    2:54 PM, 18 May 2014

    Hi Roger. I have just bought an Emerald Gaiety plant around 1 foot high, and want to grow it in a container 2x2x2 feet on my balcony, as I live in an apartment. Do you think the shrub will do well in a container? I’d like it to grow into a bush around 2×2 feet. Also, I live in Toronto, Canada, which gets very hot humid summers and very cold and snowy winters. I’m assuming the shrub can be left out on the balcony over winter? If so, do I need to protect it in any way?

    Thanks for any advice!

    • Roger
      10:28 AM, 26 May 2014

      The euonymus would do OK in the planter. The problem would be during the winter. The “above-ground” exposure and fluctuating temperatures of winter would be too much for the plant.

      Most, if not all, leafy plants would suffer the same consequence. You’d have better luck with a dwarf conifer, cypress or juniper of some kind.

      Sometimes, in situations like this, it’s better to just accept the seasonal aspect and replant each growing season with an annual plant or vine. If you’re intent on having something 12 months, try something like I mentioned above.

  • sheila
    12:39 PM, 19 May 2014

    My plants look dead, will they come back?

    • Roger
      10:37 AM, 26 May 2014

      If by mid-June you’re not seeing any new growth (check by the base of the plant too), then it’s likely dead.

  • Kris
    11:12 PM, 27 May 2014

    Help. I planted a very long row of Emerald Gaiety plants thinking these had the potential to become an evergreen hedge. However, the more I read the more I’m concerned this may not be possible. Can these become a true hedge and if so, how can I best train them?

    • Roger
      9:21 PM, 4 July 2014

      Emerald Gaiety will form a hedge, but it will be and should be maintained as a more natural, informal hedge – not sheared to an absolute shape (IMO).

      Also, EG will not get very tall (possibly 3′ or so over time).

  • Donna
    2:53 PM, 8 July 2014

    Last summer I planted a very small “Emerald/n Gold Euonymus” shrub, which never grew at all – nor did it die. Because it was planted in a garden around our tree in the front yard, I just presumed it needed to establish it’s roots and may have been competing with the tree. It is now a year later and it is still not growing, nor dying. I’ve given it plenty of fertilizer (Miracle Grow), but it simply is not getting any bigger and looks like I just planted it. I have another Emerald Euonymus in a different garden that is doing very well. Also, all my other plants and shrubs in my garden around the tree are doing very well. Do you have any idea what the problem could be.

    • Roger
      1:18 PM, 6 October 2014

      Hard to say what’s troubling your Emerald Gold E. The fact that other plants in that same garden are doing well gives some assurance the ground is OK and competition with the tree is not a big issue.

      One thing to consider would be in the spring (not this fall) to dig down next to the root ball and see if the plant has been pushing new roots out into the surrounding soil. Often “container-grown” plants become root-bound in their containers. And if you don’t “tease” the roots (i.e. cut or rough them up a bit) before you plant, they’ll remain stagnant and not develop properly.

  • Natalie
    5:40 PM, 13 September 2014

    We just recently purchased a new-to-us home and there are 9 emerald gaiety plants on my front walkway. They are quite leggy at the top and those legs are all leaning. In addition, it is overtaking the area overpowering the other ground cover planted around it. The tops of these are about waist high. I’m not much of a gardener and so at first I didn’t even know what they are.

    The fact that they are not supported is probably why they are leaning. I guess I should prune them back into a mounded shape?

    • Roger
      9:27 PM, 13 October 2014

      Exactly. If you can wait until early spring to prune them back, that would be best.

  • Tammy
    2:14 PM, 24 September 2014

    Hi Roger,

    When is the best time to prune the emerald gold? I live in southern Ontario, just outside of Toronto. Sorry if you answered this question alread.


    • Roger
      9:36 PM, 24 September 2014

      Wait until spring to prune the Emerald Gold.

  • debby
    2:17 AM, 26 September 2014

    the ppl next me dont like to take care of there yard would this help hide it?

    • Roger
      8:44 AM, 26 September 2014

      Emerald Gaiety does not grow tall enough for screening.
      You’d be better off using Euonymus ‘Manhattan’.

  • Margo
    9:48 AM, 11 October 2014

    We have planted the low growing shrubs in a raised garden around a gazebo. We live in Ottawa, Canada which I believe is Zone 5 and are subject to cold winters and snow. Is it necessary to cover these plants with burlap to avoid freezing?

    • Roger
      9:25 PM, 13 October 2014

      Yes. When you near the time that freezing temperatures begin to be routine, you’ll want to protect the plants from wind and sun exposure. Winter sun will warm the leaf surface and cause it to transpire (give off moisture). If the root system is frozen beneath the ground, the plant cannot replace that lost moisture.

      A “raised” bed presents a challenge because that elevated planting is more susceptible to fluctuating freeze/thaw cycles.

  • Seth
    11:28 PM, 22 February 2015


    My parents had a wintercreeper that recently died after being left unattended last summer. I want to plant one or two new ones for them. One will go in the old spot as a groundcover and the other I want to plant about 10 feet away next to the house. The side of the house is stone, so from what I’ve read the plant will grow up the side of the stone. Is there anything special I need to do to train it on this stone wall?

    • Roger
      5:28 PM, 3 March 2015

      Presuming you’ll plant the new Wintercreeper near or at the base of the stone house, you should not have to do anything special to get it to climb. Once the stems come in contact with the stone they’ll instinctively cling and climb. It will take a little time for the new plant to establish (with good care), i.e. set roots into the existing soil. After that, it should begin to grow & climb pretty readily.

  • Theresa
    9:36 AM, 15 March 2015

    I have 4 golden eunonymous in backyard here in New Jersey and 2 have reached 4′ high. The other 2 are half the size. This winter the leaves have turned brown. I like the size of the 2 mature shrubs but am wondering if they are dying and what can I do to save them, if anything.

    • Roger
      11:24 AM, 15 March 2015

      I live in NJ too and I’m seeing winter damage on many broadleaf evergreens. Last winter we had similar damage.

      Whether or not they’ll recover, re-bud and push new growth depends on the extent of the winter damage. In other words, if damage goes beyond the leaves and into the stems the plant will not recover at those points.

      You’ll need to wait and see (into spring) if and where the plant is showing signs of new buds. If new buds appear further down the stems, but not towards the tips, simply cut back to those “living” points, i.e. just above the first new bud.

  • Theresa
    1:21 PM, 15 March 2015

    Thanks so much for your quick response. I will take your advice and see what happens in the spring.

  • Gail Braun
    4:15 PM, 30 March 2015

    I have a Emerald Gaiety and the leaves did not fall off through the winter. Do I cut it down or leave the old leaves and branches on? Will the new buds start with all last years leaves on?
    Thank you

    • Roger
      4:47 PM, 1 April 2015

      Emerald Gaiety is an evergreen, so it’s good the leaves are still on. If the plant looks OK, and it sounds like it is, simply let it be. New buds should form throughout the plant this spring (among the existing leaves) and give a new flush of growth.

  • Nick
    10:36 AM, 1 May 2015

    What is the best way to cut back a huge area of winter creeper ground cover?

    • Roger
      7:47 AM, 2 May 2015

      When you say “cut back” are you wanting to eliminate it from an area that it’s invading?

      If so, there are two approaches you could take.

      The first one I practice on my property. I have wintercreeper along a border planting that continually wants to invade further into the lawn area. To stop this expansion, every time I cut the grass I deliberately let the mower go over into the edge of the oncoming wintercreeper. If I sense the wintercreeper is “winning more lawn area,” I let the mower overlap further into the groundcover. This constant, low cutting (mower height) discourages the plant from expanding.

      The other approach would be to physically remove the invading plant — roots and all. As it spreads the running stems are rooting into the ground. So you would establish the point (or line) you want to cut back to and start removing the foliage, stems and roots from there.

      Wintercreeper will continually want to reclaim that space. So you’ll need to have a steady method of containment, like with the lawn mower, to keep the plant in-check. Even a with a physical border like brick or plastic edging, wintercreeper will eventually grow over it.

  • karie
    11:07 AM, 3 May 2015

    My euonymus gold isn’t looking so good this spring. It only has a few greens on the bottom of the plant. The rest is dry branches. Should I cut right back to the base of the plant? If so there will not be much left to it. But hoping it will bud. Any advice? Thank you.

    • Roger
      8:39 AM, 4 May 2015

      You’re doing the right thing, i.e. pruning out any of the deadwood.

      You could fertilize the plant to help it along. And, of course, make sure it gets watered occasionally. Not too much though – euonymus do not like it wet.

      I think it will recover. The fact that it’s budding is a good sign.

  • Christine
    5:35 PM, 11 May 2015

    Hi Roger,

    I have 4 large euonymus plants climbing up trellis, used as a privacy screen. The NJ winter was not kind to them this year and I found a lot of small branches in the inner part of the plant died. The plant seems to be coming back, but much of the new buds and leaves are at the end of the branches, so the plant is looking quite leggy. Is there anything I can do to stimulate new growth more towards the inner part of the plant, rather than the ends?

    Thank you!

    • Roger
      8:57 AM, 12 May 2015

      It’s still early, and the plant will continue to recover.

      Later on in the season, if the plant still looks thin, you could selectively tip prune the longer shoots throughout the plant. I know, that’s a big job!. 🙂 You can always do it in stages; a little bit at a time. As you might expect, the plant will then direct energy to lower and lateral shoots.

  • Jean
    8:35 PM, 12 July 2015

    When is the best time to prune euonymous?

    • Roger
      10:53 PM, 12 July 2015

      I would prune euonymus in mid to late spring, especially if I was making aggressive cuts to reduce the size of the plant or renovate it.

      For general maintenance and light pruning, we’ll do that now, i.e. mid to late summer.

  • Sharon
    10:33 AM, 27 August 2015

    I planted a little emerald gaity in my front yard in a soil that has a lot of clay. We may have over watered in an attempt to help establish it. Now the leaves are over 50% dead. Is there a way to rescue this poor plant?

    • Roger
      8:40 PM, 27 August 2015

      If it is over-watering, and it sounds like it is, you’ll want to raise the plant out of the wet conditions — maybe one third out of the ground. Use available mulch or top soil (that drains well) to mound around the exposed root-ball.

      It’s never a guaranteed thing to reverse damage from over-watering or too wet ground. This condition deprives the root system of oxygen.

      Elevating the euonymus out of this wet, clay ground will give it the best chance of recovery. It’s OK to moisten the surrounding top soil or mulch you’ve mounded around the root-ball. But also let it dry out once in awhile, i.e. a more natural watering cycle.

      If the plant does recover I would not expect to see new buds or re-growth until next spring. If there is new buds and growth, you could then prune out the deadwood. Perhaps then you could even lower the plant (root-ball) a bit more into the native ground. But I would still favor keeping the top of the root-ball higher than the surrounding ground. You would have to judge how much that would be — I can’t give an amount without seeing the situation.

  • Larry
    9:02 AM, 9 September 2015

    I have a winter creeper emerald gaiety and it not growing upward but side ways or wide. Should I put a steak in the ground to prompt it?

    • Roger
      5:47 PM, 10 September 2015

      It’s not unusual that growth habits vary within the variety ‘Emerald Gaiety’. Frankly, I think variations just occur when plants are propagated and mass produced.

      It’s possible that a stake or two will help direct some of the growth upward — especially if you’re helping things along with monitoring and affixing stems to each stake with a twist-tie (or similar). But if the overall growth habit of that particular plant is more sideways, it’s likely you’ll never get “the look” you’re after.

  • Ryan Craner
    12:22 PM, 16 September 2015

    Hi Roger, I have a type of Golden Euonymus and am unsure exactly what type. I’m planting them in my yard as a privacy hedge. I transplanted them from my grandparents house they are small now. I planted them in late august. I live in Delaware. Just wanted some info on taking care of them for winter. They are starting to produce new growth. Also my these hedges are pretty tall at my grandparents house. I’d say over 6ft but from what I’ve been reading the golden euonymus isn’t suppost to get to that height? Well I want them to be tall and I figured they’d get just as tall as they are at my grandma’s since they are the same hedge. So what type of Golden Euonymus do I have? Also can I spray them with miracle grow to help growth and if so what time of year should I?

    • Roger
      10:20 AM, 28 September 2015

      It’s hard to say exactly what variety of euonymus you have without seeing it. And at that, even then it can be difficult because there are so many cultivars.

      My guess it’s a cultivar of Euonymus japonicus — perhaps ‘Chollipo’.

      I would not feed them now (late summer fall) with Miracle Gro. I would feed with an organic, granular fertilizer in spring (like Espoma’s Plant-Tone).

      Also, you might want to winter-protect the euonymus with an anti-transpirant or put a burlap screen around them.

  • Jennifer
    12:29 AM, 20 September 2015

    I have 2 of these – one with green and yellow leaves, and one with green and white. We live in Canada in Saskatchewan so have very cold winters. I read that the leaves might go pink – which has happened previously. I am wondering if I should “winterize” these plants to better protect them from the harshness of our winter conditions. Any advice??

    • Roger
      11:32 AM, 20 September 2015

      It looks like Saskatchewan covers Planting Zones 2, 3 & 4. And Eunoymus fortunei varieties are listed as hardy to Zone 4. So you’re definitely “testing” that plant in your area.

      In short, “winter protection methods” protect the plant from exposure (sun & wind). The damage occurs when the ground freezes and moisture can no longer be brought up into the plant. Sun & wind causes the leaves to transpire (give off moisture) and the plant cannot replace it.

      I think it’s smart you give some winter protection to your euonymus. In that sense I still like the traditional methods such as surrounding or wrapping in burlap.

      To “wrap” the plants in burlap, first tie them up. Then use burlap to wrap around the plant, like a mummy. 🙂 You’ll have to shop around for burlap — I would try a local garden center or nursery.

      To “surround” the plants with burlap you would first drive a few stakes into the ground around the plant, and then attach the burlap to the stakes.

      Make sure the plants are adequately watered through the fall. Not that they should be over-watered and the soil too wet, but sufficiently moist so they are not stressed due to dryness.

      It’s also a good idea to have the plants mulched. This insulates the ground somewhat and helps prevent freeze/thaw events, which harm the plant.

  • Sue
    11:42 AM, 17 October 2015

    I have a eunonymous shrub (silver and green). It is healthy and happy has grown over many years into and through a massive Hebe. The Hebe has just been removed and the eunonymous is now looking very strange. It has leaves at the base and again at the ends of it’s long branches but the middle sections of the stems are bare and woody. These sections were previously growing under and in amongst the Hebe. Shall I cut it back or will the bare woody sections produce leaves now they are exposed to the light?

    • Roger
      1:17 PM, 17 October 2015

      The fact that there’s foliage above and below the bare stems tells me it’s likely new buds should form there.

      You could trim the ends, which would encourage lower growth and budding.

  • sarah
    10:21 PM, 18 November 2015

    Please advice if these shrubs need to be pruned before frost/snow. I am in southern Ontario. Thanks

    • Roger
      3:06 PM, 19 November 2015

      Hi Sarah,
      I’m afraid the link you gave does not show your image — only the website.

      If you use Dropbox or your Goggle Drive account you can share an image/file.

  • Mark
    8:19 PM, 18 February 2016

    I have a olant that has similar leaves. Do these things grow in a shrub shape as well? Looks like more of a ground covering from the pics

    • Roger
      4:48 PM, 23 February 2016

      Most of the larger Euonymus ‘Gaiety’ I’ve seen fall in the 2 to 3′ high range. Their form is mounded and will typically grow wider than tall. This plant is versatile in that it can be used as a low, mounded shrub form — or grouped together as a ground cover.

  • Peg
    12:29 PM, 25 March 2016

    Hi Roger
    Last year I planted a golden Euonymus and now that it has survived our surprisingly mild winter in NJ, I notice that some of the outer parts of the leaves have turned beige. There are buds all over it, including the branches with the beige on the outer leaves. So what to do? Pluck off the beige leaves or cut it back ? Thank you for your help.

    • Roger
      6:09 PM, 26 March 2016

      The new buds are a good sign. And this is not unusual for euonymus to react this way.

      Let the plant continue to grow and recover through April. Soon you’ll see clearly the stems and tips of branches that are not living. You can then prune out the dead ones and cut back those that have dieback on the ends.

      You could also tip-prune the completely healthy branches just to encourage the plant to push lateral growth. This will make the plant fuller.

  • Phoebe
    1:03 PM, 14 April 2016

    We just took up some of our Emerald Gold. Evidence of rabbits during the winter. One looked completely eaten. We have them in pots in the south facing area of our porch here in TN. I’ve watered them all week in their pots, and the one that I thought was gone because of the rabbits, is coming back. They also look much healthier, then others we have in our yard. But very straggly. I wonder if it’s the clay soil? We always plant with peat moss or soil conditioner depending on what we are planting. Everything else has done well. I’m thinking I may trade them for potted plants and put them on our north facing porch where we have discovered our boxwoods that are in pots may have blight disease.

    • Roger
      10:37 PM, 14 April 2016

      It’s hard to diagnose without being on-site and seeing all the conditions. Certainly the clay soil could play a part as euonymus prefer well-drained soil. Amending the soil like you do probably helps, although there are still arguments/debates in the field about the merits of amending soil when planting. I, for one, believe it is a good practice to amend conservatively — meaning the native soil should always be the dominant material in the mix.

      Take care not to over-water. That can do more harm than good. In the pots it’s less likely you will, but those that are in the ground can easily get too wet with regimented watering.

      I’m familiar with the boxwood blight. We have it here too in the northeast. When I suspect that a plant may have it, I send a sample to Rutgers University for diagnosis. It takes a qualified plant diagnostic lab to properly identify that pathogen. Unfortunately, there is not too much that can be done. Here’s a list of boxwood and their degree of susceptibility (and tolerance) to the disease.

  • Bozena
    9:42 PM, 14 April 2016

    Hi Roger, I use to have 6 beautiful emerald and green euonymus plants in the raised flowerbed. Two of them died in 2013/2014 winter and the rest in 2014/2015. I had to remove them. They were 15 year old and were growing very well. I would like to replace them but because I do not know what killed them I am hesitant. I can see in my area other dead euonymus plans. Was it because of the harsh winter (I live in Ontario, Canada) and the fact that they were in the raised bed? I did not notice any pests or disease before they died except the wholes in their leaves which looked like something was eating them. I thought these were snails but I am not sure. Do you know what could cause my plants to die?
    I appreciate your help.

    • Roger
      10:50 PM, 14 April 2016

      It’s difficult to diagnose plant problems without being there to look at all the conditions. Yes, it’s possible the severe winters have had an affect on them. Being in a raised bed would increase the chances of winter damage too.

      You mentioned holes in the leaves. There is an insect called black vine weevil that can affect euonymus. Again, this would have to be diagnosed on the site. This insect does create noticeable chew marks on the foliage in its adult stage. But its the larvae stage that feeds on the roots that causes the most damage to the plant.

  • Bridget
    10:10 PM, 28 June 2016

    Hi, Roger! I planted 3 a couplenof years ago and they are doing great..this year they really wann crawl up my brick wall and thoufht it would add some charm to my home!! How does it do on a morter and brick?? The morter is in good shape no cracks..but woud it cause bug problems or moistur problems?? I prune it often and feed it twice in the summer…its growing more flat and im actually mulching less too!!-yay! Yoir thoughts??

    • Roger
      8:21 AM, 9 July 2016

      In my experience I’ve never had a problem growing either of these two varieties next to or up a brick wall. You mention the brick wall is in good shape and the mortar solid without any cracks — that’s important, so you’re good there.

      I don’t consider these euonymus real aggressive climbers compared to other plants.

      Nice that you’re mulching less too!

  • Gerri
    7:01 PM, 14 July 2016

    How To Prune Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety and E. Gold’

    I purchase two Emerald Gaiety in Oct 2015. Planted into the ground in Nov 2015.
    Winter in the greater Boston area was not too harsh compared to previous winter when we had over 100 inches of snow. The two plants were planted side by side in the same hole. The leaves did turn pink during the winter. In the spring of 2016 the color returned to the original green with white leaves. The plants have grown in height, but more in width. I have not fertilized them yet. I read in an email that appeared earlier in this column that I should use Plant Tone in the spring. Today is 7/14/16. Is it too late to fertilize with Plant Tone? How many times per year should these plants be fertilized? In April 2016 I fertilized three YEW shrubs that were planted in Oct 1015, and it produced new growth on the YEWS. Please advise. Thank you for this column, I’ve read all the messages and found them to be helpful and informative.

    • Roger
      2:31 PM, 17 July 2016

      I’m not an advocate of regimented fertilizing on trees and shrubs unless there’s a particular condition you’re addressing. Of course a soil test is the best way to determine if and what nutrients are needed.

      Having said that, it should be safe to fertilize the shrubs with Plant-tone once a year. I would not recommend feeding now (in the summer). I’d wait until fall — or next spring.

  • Bonnie Ostler
    8:23 PM, 30 July 2016

    My beautiful big thick Golden Euonymus was planted 31 years ago at the sunny south-west corner of our house located on a hill. It has attached itself to the brick wall and spread ten feet along the west side of the house under a window and five feet along the south wall. We live in Ottawa, Canada where it is not common for winter temperatures to dip below -30F. The plant has never been protected. A few leaves curl by spring and some drop off but always grow back. The only pruning that has been done is to keep it away from the house windows and prevent it from climbing too high (above step-ladder reach) on the corner brick. It is in sandy soil and is never fertilized and rarely watered. I love this plant.

    • Roger
      11:26 AM, 6 August 2016

      Thanks for sharing your experience with gold euonymus.

      It’s amazing it does so well in that zone and with that exposure. I see (and hear) examples of plants defying their “normal” growing conditions all the time. It just goes to show that these are living things that can adapt and thrive in unusual circumstances. I think this is just one of the things that makes plant life so interesting.

  • Lisa
    4:53 PM, 11 August 2016

    I did a very hard prune on a couple gold euonymus bushes that had become overgrown in anticipation of painting this summer. I did the prune in late spring, and right afterward it turned HOT. Since then there has been almost no growth – just a few buds here and there, some of which turned into leaves and some of which died off. The bushes are basically skeletons. Do you think they’ll fill in next spring, or is it likely I’ve killed them?

    • Roger
      10:21 AM, 12 August 2016

      It’s hard to say if they’ll recover. If you can leave them until next spring that would be the determining point. If they don’t show signs of budding next spring, then they’re not going to recover at all.

  • Tom
    4:03 PM, 25 August 2016

    I live in New Jersey and have 12 year old golden euonymus along my driveway. They have gotten too tall and I would like to lower them at least 12 inches. Can I use a hedge trimmer to do that without harming them? If I can, when would be the best time to do it?

    • Roger
      10:25 AM, 28 August 2016

      I’d have to see the particular plant(s) to give specific advice because there are quite a few types and varieties of golden euonymus. The article is about Euonymus fortunei, which is typically a low, mounded form with trailing branches. There are other popular golden euonymus of another specie: Euonymus japonicus. These tend to be more upright and “shrub-like”.

      Both can be pruned to reduce their height — and this should ideally be done in spring. I hesitate to recommend a universal cut of 12″ with a hedge trimmer, and would prefer to using hand-pruners. Question: Is there foliage below 12″ or bare stems? With hand-pruners you can reduce the height in stages. I’d select the heaviest stems (perhaps 1 out of every 3 stems) and cut them back 12″ (or slightly below 12″). This will reduce the heaviest of branching and get more light and air into the body of the plant so that it can adjust and produce newer growth below. Do the same thing the following season and perhaps a third season to get the plants where you want them.

      Again, depending on the particular euonymus and its condition, it could tolerate a universal cut with the hedge trimmers and recover. But I do think the approach of reducing it in size over time (stages) with hand-pruners is the safest way to go.

  • Alison
    10:11 PM, 14 September 2016

    We recently bought a house with a very large Emerald Gaiety wintercreeper. It is about 10ft tall. I would like to severely prune it down to about 4 feet and it will look like sticks once pruned back.
    1. Can this be successfully done?
    2. When should it be done?
    3. What is the best method to do this?
    We live in Georgia
    Thank you

    • Roger
      10:27 AM, 15 September 2016

      I’m not sure that’s an ‘Emerald Gaiety’ if it’s 10′ tall — unless it’s growing as a climber. There are so many variations (deliberate and mutations) of euonymus that it can be sometimes difficult to ID some of them.

      In “most” cases Euonymus fortunei (aka Wintercreeper) and its many related forms (like Emerald Gaiety) can be pruned back aggressively to rejuvenate the plant. You would do this with hand pruners and loppers (if necessary). Once you get the plant to a universal height of 4′, you could then prune out (to the base) some of the older, thicker stems. This will leave the younger stems to rejuvenate. The plant should also push new growth from the base after a hard pruning back.

      Pruning like this should be done in the early spring. Down in Georgia that might be late February or early March. Use your judgement here — ideally you want to prune comfortably before the new growth starts.

  • Aimee
    4:27 AM, 11 October 2016

    Hi there,
    I have a Euonymus gaiety planted next to a wall and want it to climb the wall and help cover it. How do I encourage it to climb? It was only planted last autumn but has not really grown at all as yet.
    Thank you

    • Roger
      9:23 AM, 13 October 2016

      It’s hard to comment on the health of the plant without seeing it and the conditions it’s planted in. But I’m presuming it’s OK — just not growing much.

      It can take some time for the plant to just establish and before you see any “climbing growth”. I would focus on the general health of the plant right now. Be careful not to over-water. Fertilize in the spring. Here is a good description of the the plant and its preferences.

      When the plant begins to grow prune the growth that heads away from the wall — this will encourage the growth towards and up the wall.

  • Ryan Craner
    1:01 PM, 5 December 2016

    Hey Rodger, I’ve planted some golden euonymus in my yard for a privacy hedge. I’ve read all different types of plant tags for this shrub and some say it only grows 3-4ft wide and 6ft tall, others say it grows anywhere from 4-6ft wide and 6-10ft tall. I’ve spaced them out at 5ft. I’m hoping for a nice dense formal hedge someday no shorter than 6ft. Should i move them closer together or do you think I’m good? Also any tips u can provide on fertilization or pruning will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • Roger
      9:41 AM, 7 December 2016

      It sounds like you have a Eunoymus japonicus variety — probably ‘Aureomarginatus’.

      I like the 5′ (center-to-center) spacing you have because the plant can grow to maturity without being cramped with another. Air circulation is important with this plant. They can be susceptible to scale (insect), and poor air circulation can contribute to that.

      Here in the northeast I can’t remember seeing this particular plant over 6′.

      To get the size plant you’re looking for you can pretty much let it grow to its full maturity. Any pruning might be to selectively tip-prune any aggressive stems or branches. This will keep it neat looking without making it smaller.

      In terms of fertilizing, I wouldn’t get too crazy with that. Perhaps once a year feed with Espoma Plant-tone.

  • becky
    2:14 PM, 24 April 2017

    Hi Roger,
    Last fall and spring we planted many euonymus plants around the yard. During the late winter and up until now, something has been cutting off the branches and leaving them on the ground. Some of the cuts are through some pretty thick stems. By eye, they look as though they were cut clean with a knife at an angle, though the area of the cut is slightly rough to the feel. We do have deer in the area but they tend to just eat leaves and soft twigs right on the plant, not remove whole branches and then leave them on the ground. Our next door neighbor said he also had the same thing going on and found some of the chewed off debris had been pulled through the crevices of his rock wall. We have a lot of other shrubs and plants but only the euonymus are being affected. Any idea what critter this could be?

    • Roger
      4:09 PM, 25 April 2017

      I’m not sure what that could be — certainly a “critter” of some kind. I would think if it were deer they’d eat whatever they nibbled on and not leave pieces on the ground. Probably more like a groundhog or similar. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  • Christine
    4:11 AM, 31 August 2017

    Hello Roger
    I would be grateful for some advice please. I have a silver and green euonymus which has unfortunately been cut with electric blades to a round ball/ lollipop shape. How should I deal with it in coming seasons to help it look more loose and natural once more?

    • Roger
      11:32 AM, 2 September 2017

      To get the euonymus back to a more natural form (in the early spring 2018) I’d selectively thin the plant out so it’s not such a tight mass of stems and lateral branches. (Use hand-pruners, not shears.) Try to open things up in a balanced way. This will start to get the “look” back you’re after, and let more air and light into the plant — this is always a good thing.

      As the euonymus begins to grow (spring of 2018) it will naturally push growth at the ends of the branches you’ve left. Let the plant gradually return to its natural form and just selectively prune (using hand-pruners) where you feel you need to.

  • Lauren F
    3:55 PM, 5 October 2017

    I went looking for a dogwood shrub, but stumbled upon this one instead. Would you consider these two shrubs to be similar? I am looking for more of a “bush/shrub” look than climbing/ground cover. Thoughts?

    • Roger
      10:08 PM, 5 October 2017

      These 2 shrubs are not similar. Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and E.’Gold’ are evergreen. Shrub dogwoods are deciduous. Mature sizes differ too — shrub dogwoods getting larger.

      Take a look at all the Spirea japonica varieties. Spirea japonica ‘Shirobana’ is a favorite of mine.

  • Dorothy
    5:57 AM, 3 November 2017

    I have a euonymus shrub in my flower bed and it has a white powdery substance on the leaves that seems to be killing the plant. I have tried copper-based fungicides with no avail. Do you know what this is? I don’t even know what type of euonymus shrub that I have. I think it is the Emerald. It is green with yellow all around the tip and around leaf. I know it is not the golden type. I am trying to save my 3 bushes and don’t know what to do. Also, can the bad sections of the shrub be cut out without ruining the shrub? I did do that to one of them and now I have a big whole in the plant. Will this ever come back?

    • Roger
      9:17 PM, 4 November 2017

      It’s hard to diagnose plant problems without actually being on-site. Your best bet would be to bring a branch sample to a plant nursery or garden center where they have a knowledgeable plants-person on staff.

      My guess is it’s either powdery mildew or scale (insect).

  • john rossetti
    1:40 PM, 3 March 2018

    Our euonymous bush was planted a few years ag0. It is three feet tall and appeared to be healthy and well suited to its area. This past February and progressively more so into the start of March we noticed hundreds of its leaves on the ground. The branches that remain seem to be green and healthy. Why is this happening and can anything be done to make it a “full” plant again?

    • Roger
      11:48 PM, 3 March 2018

      It’s difficult to give any kind of diagnosis when you’re not actually on-site. But it sounds to me as though the plant was winter-damaged by a particular circumstance of temperature, wind, and other environmental conditions.

      Euonymus can recover very well from something like this. In the spring you could fertilize and then let the plant push its new growth for the season. If the stems are green it should come back over time.

  • Heidi
    4:48 PM, 4 April 2018

    My emerald gaiety euonymus , which was planted in 2015, is creeping up my knockout roses and the foundation of my house. It’s out of control. How far back can I prune it?

    • Roger
      9:04 AM, 8 April 2018

      You can prune back the eunoymus fairly aggressively. I’d use hand-pruners rather than trimming shears. This way you can follow back on the branches and make your cuts strategically, e.g. just above a leaf or lateral branch.

  • Dana Dvorak
    2:01 PM, 24 April 2018

    My emerald gaiety eunonymus was severely damaged this winter by deers. I have bare branches and have not idea what to do to revive the plant. Any advise?

    • Roger
      3:37 PM, 25 April 2018

      It’s likely the euonymus will push new spring growth — if it hasn’t started to already.

      You could fertilize the plant with something like Plant-tone just to help it along. Of course you’ll need to come up with some way to stop further deer grazing. Although some repellents do work (temporarily anyhow), a physical barrier like fencing is the only sure way. Perhaps you could encircle the plant with chicken wire or similar to protect it.

  • Sue Germann
    11:40 AM, 10 May 2018

    I bought some Euonymus bushes to use as a small boarder in front of some little devil ninebark bushes. They would be about 3 feet in front of the ninebark. I thought that I could prune them somewhat like boxwood, i.e., a formed boarder. Can I do this or should I shop for something else?

    • Roger
      10:43 PM, 10 May 2018

      I have seen Euonymus fortunei varieties trimmed with shears so they have a more defined shape. Of course plants like boxwood, small-leaf hollies and taxus are better suited to more formal “shaping”. But if you like the euonymus I’d give it a go. 🙂

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