Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Eastern wahoo Euonymus atropurpureus
Credit: Dan Piassick
Eastern wahoo Euonymus atropurpureus

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.

genus name
  • Euonymus
  • Part Sun
  • Shade
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 8 to 20 feet
  • To 15 feet wide
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Colorful Combinations

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.

More Varieties of Euonymus

Eastern wahoo Euonymus atropurpureus
Credit: Dan Piassick

Eastern wahoo

Euonymus atropurpureus is a delightful North American native shrub that offers bold purple fall color and attractive scarlet-red fruits in the fall. It grows 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Zones 3-7

wintercreeper Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus'
Credit: Cynthia Haynes

'Coloratus' wintercreeper

Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus' is a groundcover or climbing variety featuring deep green leaves that lighten to pink or rose in fall. Zones 4-9

Burning Bush Euonymus alatus
Credit: Adam Albright

Burning Bush

Euonymus alatus bears leaves that turn a bold flame red in fall with reddish-purple berries. It can grow 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 4-9

wintercreeper Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen'
Credit: Cynthia Haynes

'Silver Queen' wintercreeper

Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen' is a groundcover that can climb walls or other structures (it can climb as high as 20 feet) and features green leaves accented with white. Zones 5-9

wintercreeper Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'N Gold'
Credit: Jerry Pavia

'Emerald 'N Gold' wintercreeper

Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'N Gold' is a low shrub that sports gold-color foliage edged in green. The leaves turn pink in cold winters. It grows 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Garden Plans For Euonymus

foundation garden plan
Credit: Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Foundation Garden

A colorful alternative to the standard all-green landscape, this foundation planting mixes broad-leafed evergreen shrubs and a sculptural tree with flowering perennials and groundcovers.

Download this garden plan now!

deck garden plan illustration
Credit: Illustration by Eric Flynn

Garden Design for a Deck

A garden design featuring easy-to-grow shrubs and perennials enhances this deck and helps it blend into the garden.

Click here to get this free plan.


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