By: C. Colston Burrell
A shrub with green and white leaves.
Wintercreeper is a versatile ground cover plant that can climb a tree trunk or wall. GeoStock / Getty Images

The wintercreeper can't seem to make up its mind. Depending on the situation, it can be a glossy-leaved ground cover, an evergreen climber, or a dense shrub. Seed-grown winter-creepers begin by creeping along the ground. When they find a suitable support, such as a tree trunk or wall, they begin to climb it. When they reach full sun at the top of the support, they change to their mature phase, with shrubby branches and larger leaves. Only the mature phase bears flowers and fruit. Interestingly, cuttings taken from the mature form will not revert to the creeping or climbing phases, but instead will produce shrublike plants.

Description of wintercreeper: In culture, this plant is highly variable, with many different leaf sizes, growth forms, and foliage colors. Juvenile forms have small, scallop-edged, dark green leaves with lighter veins. At maturity, the leaves become much larger. Mature forms bear insignificant flowers followed by attractive and durable light pink to orange-red berries. Ease of care of wintercreeper: Easy.


Growing wintercreeper: Plant in full sun or moderate shade in ordinary soil.

Propagating wintercreeper: By cuttings or layering.

Uses for wintercreeper: This plant's variability provides a wide variety of uses. It can be a small shrub (up to 4 feet), a low-growing ground cover (excellent for erosion control), or a tall climber that scales trees or walls via clinging aerial roots. It is the hardiest of all evergreen climbers.

Related varieties of wintercreeper: The leaves of Euonymus Fortunei Colorata turn dark purple in fall and winter. The common wintercreeper (E. F. radicans) is all green and is used both as a ground cover and as a climbing shrub. Sarcoxie is an all-green shrubby form, ideal for hedges and as a specimen plant. Emerald 'n' Gold, gold-edged leaves, and Emerald Gaiety, white-edged leaves, are typical of the numerous variegated wintercreepers.

Scientific name of wintercreeper: Euonymus Fortunei

CAUTION: This species -- and many of its cultivars -- are invasive in much of eastern North America.


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