Foliage Friday: Euonymus

There are two bushes in the front yard planted near the magnolia. One is intertwined with an azalea and it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s what. Sometimes these plant have variegated leaves, and sometimes they’re all green.

I ran of photo of this plant through and finally realized… it’s euonymus!

This is another one of those plants that I knew the name of before I actually knew what the plant looked like. I’ve heard people mention euonymus as ground cover, and since these plants were growing as bushes, at first I didn’t think had given me the right ID.

But as it turns out, euonymus is a vine-like bush (or a bush-like vine?). Aha! The way the branches are threading themselves into the azalea bush…it totally makes sense..last year we noticed they had climbed up into the magnolia, so we cut them way back.

Euonymus can be either evergreen or deciduous (ours is evergreen) and can grow as a shrub or vine. It’s native to Asia, but is widely used around the globe as an ornamental foliage plant. They’re hardy down to zone 6, can grow in sun or shade, and aren’t too picky about their soil (except they don’t like being waterlogged).

It’s interesting that our euonymus has a few variegated leaves, but most of the leaves are green. I wonder if this bush has undergone reversion – loss of the variegation which was developed through selective breeding.

From what I read reversion can happen when the plant is in a shady location and needs more chlorophyll (more green) in its leaves to make enough energy, or is stressed for some other reason and similarly boosts its chlorophyll to make more energy. This is a pretty sunny spot (which I know from my recent sun study), so I don’t think lack of sunlight is the problem in this location. The soil might not be particularly great here – a lot of clay – which might make the plant too waterlogged.

Either way, I don’t particularly like these two bushes in this location. The bush between the azalea and the magnolia is getting tangled up in the azalea, and the other one….I just don’t care for it. Plus they’re not native, so I have no qualms about taking them out.

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