Plant Focus: Euonymus alatus

Every garden designer has his or her favourite/most-used plants, and I’m no different.  But rather than sharing a long list with you, I want to take the time to focus on some individual plants and how/where/why they can be useful.

We’ll start this month with one of my favourites – Euonymus alatus, otherwise known as winged spindle / fire bush.  It’s quite understated… until Autumn!

Euonymus alatus - flowers in May/JuneEuonymus alatus in Autumn - the 'fire bush'Euonymus alatus in Autumn - the 'fire bush'Euonymus alatus Autumn foliage

Description:

  • A neat, upright elegant plant
  • Mainly grown for it’s autumn interest as its leaves turn brilliant red
  • Deciduous, but has corky wings on the stems, which provide winter interest
  • Simple small flowers

Why I like it:

  • For its amazing and brilliant red autumn colour
  • Not fussy, just well-behaved and attractive
  • Slow growing and tolerant of a wide range of conditions
  • Low maintenance

Where to use it

  • Sometimes you just need a plant that has small bright green leaves, to contrast with and get away from the constant dark green stodginess of Photinia Red Robin, Mahonia, Yew etc.  Or to contrast with silver variegated or purple foliage.  Euonymus alatus fits the bill really well.
  • As part of an Autumn border or just to provide wonderful Autumn interest in a section of the garden
  • If possible, plant in an area where the sunshine will play on the brilliant red leaves in Autumn

Buying tip:

  • Look for plants that are well branched down to the base.

 

Image credits: Matt Lavin, Jack Pearce, R. D. Richards, Matt Lavin.

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