The Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper is the perfect shade-tolerant plant for all those difficult spots in your garden. It grows in all locations, from full sun to full shade, and it is especially useful in darker areas where so few plants will grow. It forms an attractive spreading mound of green leaves, splashed with white, sparkling in the shade, and since it is evergreen, it looks perfect all year round. In milder areas it will also climb up a wall or tree, or on a trellis, to a height of perhaps 6 feet, making it the perfect way to cover a shady wall. It grows well on slopes, holding the soil in place with its spreading stems, which root into the ground. It can edge a pathway in green or hide an old stump. Under urban conditions it grows well, making it perfect for a city garden, where shady corners are common.
- Sparkling evergreen foliage in emerald-green and white
- Grows well from full sun to full shade
- Spreading mound creates a dense ground cover
- Grows up walls and trellis to 6 feet high
- Easily grown in a wide range of conditions
The Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper is hardy all across the country, form zone 4 to zone 8. In zone 4 it will only grow across the ground, as upright stems will often be killed in winter. Just trim them back and your plant will quickly re-sprout, covering flat or sloping areas in all light conditions. It grows in almost any soil that is not constantly wet, and it needs no particular care to thrive in any garden. For the perfect shade tolerant plant, you cannot pass by this versatile and useful bush.
Gardens, especially those with existing trees, but also those with shade from buildings, always need shade-loving plants. Many of these are low-growing, hugging the ground, but often something larger and more shrub-like is needed. This is where the reliability and size of the Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper comes into its play. This terrific plant combines height and spread with bright foliage and an ability to thrive in full shade – the gardener’s perfect companion for all those ‘difficult’ spots.
Growing Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper
The Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper is a broad-leaf evergreen shrub, growing around 3 feet tall, with variegated foliage. Each leaf has an irregular margin of white, sometimes thin, sometimes thick. Some leaves may be almost completely white, while others are mostly green. The overall effect is of sparkling gaiety, combining bright emerald green with an almost pure white. No wonder it has the name ‘Emerald Gaiety’.
This plant grows across the ground into a broad, spreading mound of foliage, and will also often climb a tree or wall several feet into the air. At the coldest end of its hardiness it mostly grows across the ground, protected by snow from the bitter cold. In warmer areas it will often climb a wall to 6 feet high, or even more. It has a woody stem and branches, which spread outwards in all directions.
The best thing about the Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper is its tolerance of shade. In cooler areas it will also grow in full sun, but it thrives in partial shade and grows well in full shade too. This puts it among that small but valuable group of plants that are truly ‘shade tolerant’ and ideal for all those shady spots in the garden. These can be found on the north side of your home, close to the wall, or underneath broad eaves. The Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper is the ideal plant to bring greenery to these difficult spots.
Uses in the Garden
Out in the garden itself, there are always shady areas on the north side of hedges or screens, under trees, or in the shade of larger shrubs. Plant this tough plant in those spots, and your problems are over. Now you can have green everywhere, and eliminate those bare, brown areas. If you have a slope, then often the soil can wash away in rain. Because the stems of this plant root into the ground, when planted on a slope it gives good erosion control, as well as looking great. If you have a pathway through a shady area, use it as an edging, to make the path more attractive, and brighten that area of your garden.
Often a lawn will become thin and bare if there is not enough light for it. Instead of staring at those dreary spots, dig them up and plant the Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper instead. It will grow rapidly to fill such spaces. Plant 3 to 4 feet apart, and soon you will have a sparking ocean of white-flecked greenery instead of dreary, dry and brown dirt. If you have ugly features you want to hide, like an old tree stump, or some cracked and broken concrete, surround it with this plant, and soon it will disappear. On top of all this, wintercreeper is very tolerant of harsh, urban conditions, so for a city garden it makes the ideal low-maintenance plant.
The Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper is very easy to grow. It is happy in almost any type of soil, as long as it is not constantly wet, and it grows well in both alkaline or acidic soils. Once established it is moderately drought tolerant, although like most shade-loving plants it benefits from some water during very dry spells.
Care and Maintenance
Emerald Gaiety Wintercreepers rarely suffers from pests or diseases and needs no particular care at all. If it should grow too tall, or too wide for the spot you have chosen, then simply trim it back and it will re-sprout in no time. Should it become a little thin or bare, then just do the same, add a little fertilizer, and it will soon be lush and green again.
History and Origins of the Emerald Gaiety Wintercreeper
Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) is a native plant of Japan, China, and south-east Asia, where it grows naturally in woodland areas. It has an interesting way of growing, because young plants in shady spots grow as a vine, with long, trailing branches. When these grow up a tree into the sunlight, the plant becomes bushier, and often produces small, greenish flowers followed by orange seeds inside a beige capsule. Plants of this ‘adult’ type keep their bushy habit, even when planted back into the shade. ‘Emerald Gaiety’ is a plant like this, bushy, but still capable of sending out trailing, climbing stems as well.
Plants in sunnier places are more likely to flower, and the seed capsules make an attractive fall feature, although there are not regularly seen. It was only introduced from Japan in 1907, although it is named after Robert Fortune, the famous plant collector, who brought many plants out of Japan in the middle of the 19th century. The variety ‘Emerald Gaiety’ was found in America, although its exact origins have been lost.