Botanically known as Euonymus japonicus [yoo-ON-ih-mus, juh-PON-ih-kuh], the plant type belongs to the spindle tree family Celastraceae (Japanese Spindle Tree ‘Microphyllus’).
Native to Japan, China, and Korea, the Evergreen Euonymus is an evergreen shrub or small tree. It is known for its striking oval leaves and inconspicuous flowers.
Euonymus japonicus is quite popular among landscapers and gardeners in its native land and often found in gardens and parks.
Despite having toxic characteristics, Evergreen Euonymus plants are incredibly aesthetic and look perfect when lined alongside a garden bed.
Besides the Japanese, China, and Korea, the plant has been naturalized in North America and Europe.
Being tolerant of trimming and being quite hardy, Euonymus japonicus is loved by many gardening enthusiasts.
You’ll hear it called by its common names including Japanese Euonymus and Evergreen Euonymus.
Euonymus Japonicus Care
Size & Growth
The striking foliage of the Japanese Euonymus plant although easy to grow and care for, has a medium growth rate.
The species is a hermaphrodite, meaning it contains both male and female organs and is pollinated by insects.
When grown in the right climate and growing conditions, Evergreen Euonymus japonicus grows up to anywhere between 6’ – 26’ feet in height and around 6’ feet in width.
Control the bushy growth by pruning it and making a neat hedge around your garden.
Flowering and Fragrance
Japanese Euonymus produces inconspicuous greenish-white flower color and dark green leaves.
Each flower is quite small, just over ¼ inch wide.
The bloom time of Euonymus japonicus is in late spring to early summer and are known to have a vinegary smell.
If you look for them, they are attractive against the foliage.
Come fall, the plant also produces small orangish-pink fruits, which are best kept out of children’s reach as they are toxic.
Light & Temperature
Japanese Euonymus plants are hardy to hardiness zone 6 and 7 (USDA zones) and can thrive in full sun and partial shade to full shade locations.
But they are best suited for dry, shaded areas.
Even though the plant is tolerant of shade, it might not fruit as well.
As for temperature, Evergreen Euonymus plants hate dry cold winds.
They prefer warmer temperatures.
The annual daytime temperature should be between 53° – 68° degrees Fahrenheit (12° C – 20° C) and night temperatures between 39° – 53° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C – 12° C).
Lower temperatures can cause damage to the plant and even lead to it dying, so be careful in winters.
Watering and Feeding
Japanese Euonymus has average watering needs and doesn’t need to be watered too frequently when the temperatures are within its preferred range.
Avoid overwatering the plant as it can cause root rot.
Well-drained damp soil is enough for them.
When watering Euonymus japonicus plants, make sure the soil to be dry on the top before dousing them.
As for feeding, use multi-purpose organic compost in June and September to allow the plant to thrive.
Soil & Transplanting
The Euonymus japonicus plant is suitable for growing in any soil type.
They can grow in sandy, loamy, and even heavy clay soil.
However, Euonymus Japonicus does the best in dry well-drained loamy soil located in a sunny location.
When it comes to transplanting, easily prick the seedlings from the cold frame and plant them in compost in a pot.
When the plant is tall enough to handle, plant it in its permanent location.
Space them apart, giving enough space for them to spread.
Grooming and Maintenance
Evergreen Euonymus doesn’t have a lot of requirements when it comes to maintaining and grooming.
However, they can have a bushy spread needing to be trimmed from time to time.
Fortunately, they take well to pruning and do well when clipped.
How to Propagate Euonymus Japonicus
Euonymus japonicus are propagated by two methods, including seeds and cuttings.
With seeds, they need at least 3 months of cold stratification to ripen.
Once done, they are best sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame.
It may the seeds up to 18 months to germinate.
When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out of the cold frame and transplant them in pots and grow them in a greenhouse through their first winter.
Once the last frost has passed, plant the established plants in their permanent location in late spring or early summer.
When propagating with cuttings, use 1.5” inch to almost 3” inch half-ripe wood cuttings taken at the node or ones with a node.
Plant them in a cold frame during July and August.
Also use mature wood cuttings and plant them in October in a frame.
In both cases, the cuttings are easy to grow and root steadily at any given time of the year, provided they are given appropriate heating.
Evergreen Euonymus Pest or Disease Problems
Evergreen Euonymus is known to be one of the plants notably resistant to honey fungus.
However, root rot and some fungal diseases are a problem due to overwatering.
Euonymus scale and powdery mildew are troublesome.
As for pests, the Evergreen Euonymus plant is susceptible to aphids and attacks from caterpillars, especially during the flowering season.
This evergreen shrub is also a natural host of the sugar beet fly.
If you didn’t know, the Evergreen Japanese Euonymus species is known to have toxic parts.
While parts like leaves, fruits, and flowers are a problem, the seeds contain the most amount of toxin.
When consumed in large quantities by animals or humans, it can trigger bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
It can cause other symptoms like weakness, chills, convulsion, and can put someone in a coma.
It’s important you be very cautious when planting Evergreen Euonymus in your home, especially if you have children or plants.
Suggested Evergreen Euonymus Japonicus Uses
Despite having some toxic characteristics, boxleaf Euonymus plants are used for multiple purposes.
For instance, they are frequently grown as garden hedge plants in both public and private gardens.
The evergreen spindle is also often used as landscape plants, ornamental plants, topiary, and other garden designs.
Besides agroforestry, Evergreen Euonymus is also used for medicinal purposes.
The bark supposedly has antirheumatic, diuretic, and tonic qualities and the leaves are used to ease difficult deliveries.
The roots and stems of the plant are also known to yield up to 7 percent gutta-percha, which is a non-elastic rubber used as an electrical insulator.
The same material is also used to make certain plastics.