Euonymus, which is more commonly known as Spindle or Spindle Tree, is a large family of dwarf shrubs, small trees, and creepers which can be deciduous or evergreen. There are 175 species in this family, all of whom are treasured for their attractive foliage, and, in some cases, interesting fruit and seed pods.
While most Euonymus varieties originated from different parts of Asia, there are numerous cultivars of this species that have first sprung in Europe. Regardless of their origin, though, Euonymus family members are known as robust and tough plants that are fully hardy in the United Kingdom.
Being hardy and resilient and thriving in almost any soil, Euonymus shrubs are a popular choice for a variety of uses in the garden. In addition to being adaptable, they mostly tolerate partial shade, and their striking foliage does not lose its appeal in areas where sunlight is sparse. And as they are wind and salt tolerant, these shrubs and trees are ideally suited for coastal gardens.
Whether you decide on a deciduous Spindle Tree specimen or want a year-round interest that evergreen Euonymus varieties offer, you can count on these attractive yet tough plants to thrive in your garden. These cultivars will make great foundation plants, contrasting or accent plants in groupings, or, when planted en masse, make magnificent low-growing hedges.
Best Evergreen Euonymus Varieties for British Gardens
When it comes to evergreen members of the family, they are an excellent option for gardeners who admire variegated foliage and want to enjoy in its beauty throughout the seasons. Evergreen Euonymus varieties can be divided into two large groups.
Euonymus Fortunei, more often referred to as Fortune’s Spindle or Winter Creeper is one of the most popular species in the family. Fortune’s Spindle can be grown as a self-clinging climber in sun or shade or as a low hedge. As the common name of this Asian native suggests, its varieties make good candidates for groundcover plants, as well.
Euonymus Fortunei Harlequin, for instance, is a magnificent prostrate climber with unusual speckled leaves that are perfect for covering bare patches of land. The award-winning Euonymus Fortunei Emerald ‘n’ Gold is a clump-forming Fortune’s Spindle variety and has striking brightly golden, variegated leaves which turn to a pinkish hue during winter. With that in mind, it does not come as a surprise to hear that this particular Euonymus shrub is one of the most sought-after cultivars for low-growing hedges. In addition to being well suited for hedging as most evergreen Spindle Tree varieties, Euonymus Fortunei Emerald Gaiety also thrives in large pots, so do not hesitate to use its emerald green foliage with an irregular creamy white margin to add interest to patios or balconies.
Better known as Japanese Spindle, this group of evergreen Euonymus has many varieties and is probably the most salt and wind tolerant in the family. These varieties also respond quite well to clipping and trimming, which makes Euonymus Japonicus a popular choice for hedging and shaping, either as a topiary, rounded shrub, or a small tree. Japanese Spindle Tree cultivars are suitable for all aspects, from shade to full sun.
If you are looking for low-maintenance yet stunning plants for hedging purposes, Euonymus Japonicus Bravo, Euonymus Japonicus President Gauthier, or Euonymus Japonicus Mediopicta Luna would be your best bet. Their variegated foliage will beautifully contrast plainer plantings in your garden, and as they are not fussy about care and growing conditions, you will not have to put in much effort to keep them in top shape.
For marvellous alternatives to box, take a look at the tough and versatile varieties of Japanese Spindle Trees such as Euonymus Japonicus Jean Hugues, Euonymus Japonicus Microphyllus, or the long-cherished Euonymus Japonicus Ovatus Aureas.
While most of the variegated evergreen Spindle are a go-to choice for tiered hedging, this does not mean that these remarkable shrubs are not impressive when grown on their own. Some of the particularly eye-catching varieties that would do well isolated in a large container as much as they would in a group planting include the elegant Euonymus Japonicus Marieke, Euonymus Japonicus Kathy, and the pearly white Euonymus Japonicus Paloma Blanca.
Striking Autumn Colour Display with Deciduous Spindle Tree Cultivars
Although the appeal of evergreen Spindle Trees is easy to notice year-round, deciduous Euonymus varieties completely steal the show in the autumn. That is not to say that these shrubs are not attractive for the rest of the year, as they offer textured, lush foliage and flower early in the summer- the purple and green blooms can be ornamental. However, autumn is the time of the year when Spindle Trees take the center stage with a display of vibrant colors and arresting details.
Euonymus Alatus Compactus is a dwarf version of Winged Spindle, and you would be hard-pressed to find a variety with a more spectacular autumn colour than its show-stopping brilliant crimson pink leaves. It truly is a sight to behold, whether grown on its own or en masse, as a low deciduous hedge.
For a focus of interest in the garden, consider the dazzling Euonymus Planipes. This small Spindle Tree boasts a graceful vase shape, but it is the crimson red foliage and the lobed pink-red fruits that appear in the autumn that are bound to be in the center of everyone’s attention. The European natives, Euonymus Europaeus and the Euonymus Europaeus Red Cascade are also easily recognized by their showy autumn fruit- perfect for a specimen plant, or as a foreground planting, that contrasts toned down evergreens.
If you are looking for a reliable performer in the garden and an exquisite addition to any landscape, Spindle varieties are the way to go. These versatile shrubs and small trees are suited for various garden roles, from hedges to groundcovers, and they do not need any special care to remain lovely throughout the seasons.
For more information on the varieties we sell, feel free to contact us on live chat or drop us an email. All of our cultivars can be seen in person at our plant centre, or ordered online– we do nationwide UK delivery.