The thought of ‘broad-leaf evergreens’ can sometimes conjures up a vision of heavy, dark-green shrubs that are at best a background to more interesting plants. This limited vision is a long way from the reality, and many evergreens are colorful and interesting garden plants, with many uses, combining color with hardiness and the ability to grow in difficult locations. The Silver King Euonymus is at the top of the list for that – this beautiful upright shrub has vibrantly colored leaves, and it thrives in the darker and often dry areas of your garden, exactly the places that are hardest to fill with interesting and easy plants. It can be trimmed as needed, but its natural dense form needs no trimming to stay compact and attractive.
Growing Silver King Euonymus
The Silver King Euonymus grows steadily into a pyramidal, upright shrub, reaching about 6 feet tall, with a spread of around 3 feet. It can easily be maintained as a smaller plant with trimming at almost time of year, but it is naturally dense, and trimming is optional. This plant doesn’t have boring plain green leaves – instead the foliage is brightly colored in green, cream, and silvery white. The smooth, glossy leaves are rounded ovals, 2 to 3 inches long, with an irregular rich green center, and a broad silvery white margin. New leaves have a creamy tone to the edge, but this quickly matures into a crisp white that is bright and highly visible even in full shade. In June small, inconspicuous, creamy-white flowers appear in clusters where the leaves meet the stems, and these attract insects, supporting local populations of pollinators and butterflies. These can develop into small orange seed capsules, about one-third of an inch across, visible in fall and early winter. Plants that are regularly trimmed will rarely flower.
Every garden has shady areas, and for those difficult spots under large trees, the Silver King Euonymus is very hard to beat. It is perfect for height in both shady and sunny beds, and it grows well up against walls, where the branches can be spread out on a trellis to create a wider form. Use the Silver King Euonymus to create a colorful, evergreen hedge up to 5 or 6 feet tall. Plant 2 feet apart, and trim regularly, keeping the base wider than the top, so that your hedge stayed dense and full right to the ground. It is also perfect for planters, giving height and color all on its own, or surrounded by flowers or trailing shrubs. It has amazing resistance to salt spray, and with its drought tolerance it is perfect for planting near or at the beach. Wherever you have bare places to fill, this bright plant should be your first choice.
The Silver King Euonymus is hardy from zone 6 all the way into zone 9. It grows in full sun, partial shade, and in the lighter full shade beneath large deciduous trees or on the north side of a building, wall or fence. It grows literally in any kind of soil, from sand to clay, and rich to poor, provided it is not constantly wet. With such versatility, there is hardly a spot in any garden where it will not grow well, except for wet areas and in the deep shade beneath low, spreading evergreen trees. Once established it is very drought tolerant. In summer the soil beneath trees becomes very dry, but that doesn’t bother the Silver King Euonymus at all. In the hottest zones some afternoon shade can be beneficial in very dry conditions. This plant is rarely bothered by pests or diseases, and it needs no special care at all. Trimming can take place at any time, but in zone 6 and 7 it is best to avoid trimming in late fall and winter. Trimming with pruners will give the best effect for specimen plants, preventing cut leaf edges. Trim back to just above a leaf or side branch – don’t leave stumps and bare stems. If any plain green branches should appear, remove them completely, as they will in time develop more vigorously than the white-leaf branches, and become more and more dominant.
History and Origins of Silver King Euonymus
The Silver King Euonymus is a selected form of the Japanese euonymus, Euonymus japonicus. That plant grows wild in woods in Japan, Korea and China, where it can grow into a small tree over 20 feet tall. A substitute for rubber called ‘gutta-percha’ can be produced from the sap released when the roots are cut. Many forms of this tree are grown in gardens, and most of them have leaves with different patterns of variegation in white or yellow. The variety called ‘Silver King’ is one of the very best, with crisp silvery leaf edges, and a bright appearance. With its upright form it is ideal as a stand-alone specimen or hedge. If you are looking for a similar plant that is low, broad and spreading, for dry and shady locations, consider the ‘Silver Queen’ Euonymus, which belongs to a different species with a spreading habit, but with similar silver-white leaf edges. It is also cold-resistant and grows well in colder zones.
Our plants are carefully grown from selected stem pieces, to preserve the unique coloring and leaf patterning of this exceptional variety. It cannot be grown from seed, and it shouldn’t be confused with the ordinary plain-green form of this bush. The demand for tough shade tolerant plant is always high – every garden has places like that – so our stock will not last long. Order now and bring color to those shady spots with an easy-to-grow evergreen bush, the Silver King Euonymus.