Purple Wintercreeper Shows Its Stuff

Purple wintercreeper euonymus dazzles in winter (especially for those who love maroon).

I bought two flats of this groundcover at a nursery that was known for its unusual plants. That was the early 1980s. My plantings grew famously, and within just a few years I was willing to recommend purple wintercreeper euonymus as a groundcover for Texas. And I did.

As the years have passed, my recommendations have just grown stronger. The plant has never let me down. It has outperformed the very popular Asian jasmine, and now I see commercial landscapers using it in many parts of Texas.

What you need to know…
Here are the basic facts you’ll want to know to succeed.

Purple wintercreeper euonymus (Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’)
Trailing, to 6-10 in. tall and 3-4 ft. wide.
Leaves are lustrous dark green during growing season, turning maroon in winter.

Summertime finds leaves of wintercreeper a rich, dark green. It would be hard to find a prettier groundcover.

Plant will clamber through low shrubs, so is best used in open beds or around trees, but not where it can become entangled with low branches, chain link fences, etc.
Grows well in sun or shade, but requires sun for best winter color.
Euonymus scale can be a problem, but primarily when plants are allowed to climb. Less so when used as a groundcover. The systemic insecticide Imidacloprid is an effective control.

Continued Below

Getting it growing…
Start from 4-inch plants set out on 12- or 15-inch centers checkerboard-style. Plant into well-prepared garden soil with generous amounts of organic matter.
Apply high-N lawn fertilizer to stimulate stem growth and quickest cover. First year the plants normally will just cover the ground. Move stems around as needed to fill the voids.
Second year the plants will begin to build on themselves and develop depth to the bed. Trim any excessively tall shoots as needed.
Third and successive years trim off top shoots as needed to keep bed compact.
New plants can be started from these stem cuttings.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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