How To Prune Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety and E. Gold’

How-To's, Landscape Care · Written by Roger


euonymus emerald gaietyEuonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and ‘Emerald Gold’ are 2 very common shrubs.  In many ways the two are similar in form.  You’ll often see both used as a low, mounded shrub either at the front of a garden or as an area groundcover.

Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ has the distinct capability to climb when planted next to a structure.

In this first picture is ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and further down the stone wall   is ‘Emerald Gold’.

The loose, straggley growth on top is typical and perhaps in a larger open space this “wildness” would be OK.  For example, used on a slope as a groundcover this “rambling” habit would be great.

However, in other gardens  you may want to prune for a neater look.  In this situation the Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ is overpowering the azalea behind it.  Let’s bring it back to scale, but keep that natural form.

How To Prune

As always, the best method of pruning any plant to maintain a “natural” appearance is to prune “selectively” – that is, by hand, single cuts with hand pruners.

Some of you are probably saying, “Are you kidding, I have too many to prune selectively”.  I hear you.  There’s a point of practicality where you have to make a judgement call.  In this case it’s not the end of the world if you shear the plants to make a monstrous task more doable.

These next 2 pictures show selective pruning on the Euonymus ‘Emerald Gold’.  I pruned the ‘Emerald Gaiety’ the same way.

Select the longest growth that extends beyond the main body of the plant and follow it down into the plant.  There, among the denser growth make your cut just above a leaf or lateral branch.

This last picture shows the Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ after it was pruned selectively. Notice how the “natural” form was maintained, but the plant is neater and more in scale with the azalea behind it.euonymus 'emerald gaiety'

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    156 Responses to “How To Prune Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety and E. Gold’”

    1. Christine Says:

      Hello Roger
      I would be grateful for some advice please. I have a silver and green euonymus which has unfortunately been cut with electric blades to a round ball/ lollipop shape. How should I deal with it in coming seasons to help it look more loose and natural once more?

    2. Roger Says:

      To get the euonymus back to a more natural form (in the early spring 2018) I’d selectively thin the plant out so it’s not such a tight mass of stems and lateral branches. (Use hand-pruners, not shears.) Try to open things up in a balanced way. This will start to get the “look” back you’re after, and let more air and light into the plant — this is always a good thing.

      As the euonymus begins to grow (spring of 2018) it will naturally push growth at the ends of the branches you’ve left. Let the plant gradually return to its natural form and just selectively prune (using hand-pruners) where you feel you need to.

    3. Lauren F Says:

      I went looking for a dogwood shrub, but stumbled upon this one instead. Would you consider these two shrubs to be similar? I am looking for more of a “bush/shrub” look than climbing/ground cover. Thoughts?

    4. Roger Says:

      These 2 shrubs are not similar. Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and E.’Gold’ are evergreen. Shrub dogwoods are deciduous. Mature sizes differ too — shrub dogwoods getting larger.

      Take a look at all the Spirea japonica varieties. Spirea japonica ‘Shirobana’ is a favorite of mine.

    5. Dorothy Says:

      I have a euonymus shrub in my flower bed and it has a white powdery substance on the leaves that seems to be killing the plant. I have tried copper-based fungicides with no avail. Do you know what this is? I don’t even know what type of euonymus shrub that I have. I think it is the Emerald. It is green with yellow all around the tip and around leaf. I know it is not the golden type. I am trying to save my 3 bushes and don’t know what to do. Also, can the bad sections of the shrub be cut out without ruining the shrub? I did do that to one of them and now I have a big whole in the plant. Will this ever come back?

    6. Roger Says:

      It’s hard to diagnose plant problems without actually being on-site. Your best bet would be to bring a branch sample to a plant nursery or garden center where they have a knowledgeable plants-person on staff.

      My guess is it’s either powdery mildew or scale (insect).

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