Wintercreeper versus Asian jasmine after winter

A nursery in the Hill Country told one of our e-gardens readers that they didn’t stock purple wintercreeper euonymus “…because it couldn’t hold up to the Texas summertime.

One of many plantings, full sun and otherwise, of purple wintercreeper in the Sperry home landscape.

I’ve been growing it in DFW sunshine for 40 years, and I declare that statement “baloney.” It’s done very well. In fact, if anything, it holds up to drought better than Asian jasmine. Both plants have their thresholds beyond which they just won’t recover. But wintercreeper seems to be able to bounce back, where Asian jasmine cannot. When it gets to the point of taking on that insipid olive drab shade, jasmine is pretty well toast.

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Here’s an excellent comparison of winter hardiness of purple wintercreeper euonymus (left) versus Asian jasmine (right). I took the photo last week in McKinney, and it followed a winter with one cold spell that dropped into the single digits. These cold differences would not be as noticeable in South Texas. (Except in February 2021!) Click image for larger view.

But that’s not why I called this meeting. Lynn and I were at a business appointment last week, and when we walked out, I noticed this groundcover bed outside their entrance. It marks the convergence of Texas’ two finest full-sun groundcovers.

We’ve had several really cold winters recently, and Asian jasmine has come out of each staggering. I have several hundred square feet of wintercreeper in the Sperry home landscape, and it never shows any effect. It just turns that lovely shade of maroon that shouts, “Gig ‘em” at the cold.

You can’t beat that rich mid-winter wintercreeper color that comes with the first hard freeze.

Commercial landscapers are using more and more wintercreeper in their garden designs. That’s a major reason you may have trouble finding it in your local nursery. It’s not a big issue. Just ask that they notify you when it comes in. Keep watching. When it does, grab a flat and prepare to be really pleased.

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Oh, and lest anyone worry you about euonymus scale getting on wintercreeper – the only time I’ve had that happen is when I’ve allowed it to climb tree trunks. When it’s down on the ground it seems to stay free of the pests.

Personal note: How I met wintercreeper euonymus…
I was landscaping my mother’s house in 1983. I had one small space at the end of her porch and along her drive. I bought two flats of 4-inch pots. I planted one in her landscape and brought one home and set it outside the door of my greenhouse.

Mom’s planting did splendidly. It filled in quickly, and I had to start trimming it almost immediately. Meanwhile, I splashed water onto my flat when I thought of it.

Eventually, a year or two later I decided to set my plants out. (Do as I say, not as I do. Plant right away.) My flat was tied to the ground. The stems had arched out of the pots and rooted firmly to the soil.

All I could do was trim around the four sides of the flat and lift it out to discard it. The “runners” spread far and wide, soon covering 200 sq. ft. That’s when I knew I had a great groundcover. I’ve never looked back.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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