This group of plants consists of trees and low-growing shrubs with variable habits that make them valuable in different garden designs. Perhaps the most familiar species is the burning bush, which is widely planted for its brilliant red fall color. Many other euonymus varieties also feature stunning fall color, as well as showy fruits—typically hot pink and orange—or their sprawling evergreen habit.
Many species of euonymus are green; however, most of the low-growing types feature beautiful variegated foliage, most notably Euonymus fortunei. These plants have a unique habit that can be trained to be rounded shrubs, left to ramble, or even climb. With their bright gold, white, green, and sometimes pink foliage, they brighten a garden.
Many of the green varieties don't begin to shine until fall. Once fall's cool nights arrive, euonymus puts on a spectacular display of glowing oranges, reds, yellows, and burgundies. Others also have unique fruits with bright pink skin that open to reveal a bright orange interior.
Euonymus Care Must-Knows
With around 175 species in this family, requirements are going to vary. Preferred soil conditions, however, remain fairly consistent. Ideally, euonymus should be planted in well-drained, medium-moisture soil. Wet soil can cause rotting and other issues. Once established, euonymus is drought tolerant.
Euonymus varieties require different sun exposures. Many of the larger tree and shrub types, especially those with fall color, require more sun. While full sun is best, some varieties such as low-growing and variegated types tolerate shade. Many of the shrubby and low-growing types require trimming to keep them looking their best.
The one major pest is euonymus scale. These small insects cluster on the old growth, undersides of the leaves, and the stems of E. fortunei types. The gray or white pests can be identified by their pear-shape bodies. The best solution is to remove infected plants, especially heavily infested limbs. Even after removal, it may be necessary to follow up with a systemic insecticide to prevent future issues.
An important thing to note is that there are several euonymus species that have become invasive in native forests, especially burning bush and many E. fortunei types. Before planting any of these, check with local authorities to determine if this plant is considered invasive in your area.