Thursday, May 12, 2016

Training Euonymus as a Climber

When you have limited space, dense shade and you want to cover a fence line which is rather unsightly - you have limited choices in what to use.

I wanted to have some evergreen coverage to look at during the winter. I've tried Hedera helix (English Ivy) in my situation, but with little success. Too much die-back overwinter and very little growth rate. So I gave up.

Two years ago, I started Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus' (Purpleleaf Winter-Creeper) out of sheer desperation. In garden centres, it comes in cell packs: tiny little plants to start off, but worth the wait. Used mainly as a ground cover, I decided to give it a go...

Positioning it close to the wooden fence in early spring (when there were no leaves on the above tree) it took and began rooting its way up. Today, it looks like this:

Given there is a bit of winter leaf scorch damage visible, it's turning out rather nicely. By the end of June, all the worst of the brown leaves will fall off and new growth will cover the rest.

Here, you can see I used a metal framed art (from Homesense) to help support the growth, although - this is not necessary. Euonymus can become self clinging with a little coaxing. I just lightly bound the stems as it inched upwards in mid-summer to the wood, with a little garden wire, forcing the growth to fix to one area. By the end of the first summer, it had stem rootlets fixing itself onto the cedar panel. Yay!

Last year, I planted an Emerald Gaiety variety (with white variegation).  This one is very slow to grow, compared to the Coloratus cultivar. I still leave the supportive wire here, as it's taking its time reaching the desired height.

My intention is to grow these as backdrops, adding perhaps clematis or some Lamiastrum galeobdolon argentatum weaved through.

Here's another example of Euonymus (Sheridan Gold) which grew amazingly well in full sun, on a trellis fence partition:

Because the lattice wood has so many gaps, this needs a little encouragement to fixate and grow on the partition. By gently taking new, pliable stems - you weave them between the gaps and it will fill in nicely.

Euonymus can grow rather woody, so bear that in mind when you decide on what it will adhere to. You want whatever it climbs along to be sturdy enough to bear the mature weight of the plant as it grows.

The best aspect about these as vines:
  • they are slow growing compared to most vines
  • evergreen (in Ontario, there are few choices that give you great winter coverage)
  • won't damage the fence too much, as you can easily control their growth habit
  • shade tolerant and...
  • drought tolerant
Try it yourself!

1 comment:

  1. We have a few kinds of euonymus growing around our house, and they do well just like you say. I love the idea of having clematis grow through it!
    Thanks for posting Heidi!


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