The Q&A Archives: Silver King Euonymus

Question: I am interested in planting a Silver King Euonymus in my front yard. However, my house faces north and there are large sycamore trees lining the sidewalk. Therefore I get alot of shade. The area I intended to plant these shrubs gets afternoon sun from 3:00 to sunset. Will the Silver King Euonymus do ok in this area. If not, could you suggest a variegated shrub that will do well in these light conditions. My plating zone is 7. Zip 11501.

Answer: The Silver King really needs at least a half a day including the hour of noon of direct sun to stay dense and be healthy (it prefers full sun all day.) Also, it tends to discolor and/or defoliate in harsh winters and, when I checked, your zip code places you in zone 6B. This is the warmer part of zone 6 and can sometimes be as warm as a cold zone 7 in a protected microclimate but the north side is usually not well sheltered from the winter winds. So all in all I don't think it is a good choice for your location.

This is a difficult location to plant due to that mid afternoon sun. A variegated plant to consider might be the related Euonymus fortunei which has a number of variegated cultivars and will handle shade, but is sturdy enough to withstand that three o'clock sun and is quite tolerant of different soil types -- the tree roots may extend that far and keep it quite dry. The drawback here is that the plant may or may not be fully evergreen for you, depending on how sheltered the site is or isn't. Another possibility although not a shrub might be one of the variegated English ivies (Hedera helix cultivars such as Glacier) if you are able to allow it to climb a few feet up your wall.

Your local professional nursery staff may also have some suggestions (possibly a variegated English holly, if it is not a windy spot) based on a more detailed understanding of the growing conditions where you want to plant, and your design goals. Good luck with your foundation planting!

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