#TeachingTuesday: Wintercreeper

Hello and Happy New Year! We’re trying to get back into our normal routine after the chaos of the holidays, crazy weather, and switching over our operations software system. Here’s our first plant ID post of the year!

Euonymus fortunei, Wintercreeper

Chances are you have seen this plant before many a time! Gardeners may understand the tenuous relationship we have with this plant, as it can be extremely aggressive to the point of invasiveness in some scenarios, but can also be a versatile groundcover with nice winter color. It is a woody vine that forms a sprawling mat on the ground, but can grow into a shrub in some cases. Like English ivy, it will climb when it reaches a vertical surface, such as a wall, tree, or telephone pole, so it requires diligent pruning. It can grow in sun or shade, and will tolerate most conditions except wet soils. There are many cultivars available, offering variations in color.

Maintenance Tips

  • Be sure to prune it regularly to prevent spreading into unwanted areas or up tree trunks
  • If it grows up a surface, it will start producing seeds, causing it to spread even more rapidly. Avoid using this plant on walls or fences.
  • Maintain good soil drainage to avoid pests and diseases such as anthracnose, crown gall, powdery mildew, aphids, and scale.

ID Tips

  • The woody stems and opposite leaves are similar to many other vines such as Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) and vinca (Vinca spp.)
  • Unlike vinca and Asiatic jasmine, wintercreeper leaves will have slightly toothed edges (see images below)
  • Wintercreeper will grow more vigorously and try to climb more than Asiatic jasmine or vinca.
  • Asiatic jasmine will have white flowers, vinca will have periwinkle flowers, and wintercreeper will not normally flower at all. If it starts climbing, it may start producing clusters of tiny, pale green, unattractive flowers.
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