Euonymus japonica is a family of broadleaf evergreens, hardy in zones six through nine, that are extremely versatile shrubs. Tolerant of poor soils and all light conditions, they can also stand up to pollution and salt, making them good choices for urban and coastal gardeners. Solid green and variegated cultivars range from the low-growing (one to three feet) to plants that can reach ten feet in height, making them ideal for hedges large or small. Because they can withstand heavy pruning, they are a good alternative to boxwood for formal gardens and for forming topiaries. Euonymus japonica can also be grown in containers.
Good choices for larger shrubs include the solid green Grandifolia and Green Spire, and Chollipo for its light green leaf with creamy margins. Aureo-marginata has yellow-edged leaves, Golden has a green center with wide, golden margins, and Gold Spot is the opposite, with green edges and yellow center.
For low-growing varieties, try the boxwood-like Microphyllus Aurea, which has tiny, narrow green leaves. Others to consider include Microphyllus Butterscotch with small, completely yellow leaves, Microphyllus Variegata known for its small, green leaves with white edges, and Silver King, which has larger, light green leaves with white edges.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, but only as deep. Gently remove euonymus from the container and loosen the roots and soil around the exterior of the root ball. Lightly amend the soil and refill the hole so that top of root ball is level with soil surface. Tamp down soil, water well, and then cover with two or three inches of mulch.
For the first year, keep euonymus evenly moist. It’s best to water deeply rather than frequently to establish a good root system. Once established, euonymus should require watering only when rainfall is less than one inch per week or, during winters, when dry, sunny, or windy conditions persist. Euonymus will form a good shape naturally, but can be pruned hard in late winter or early spring to create more formal shapes. Cuttings are easy to root.