The wild cardinal’s hat, also known by its Latin name euonymus europaeus, is a native plant that occurs in the wild within the Benelux. You can often find the plant in the Netherlands along river areas or in the dunes. However, it also looks beautiful in the garden. Although the plant can grow up to six meters high in some climates, when mature it usually reaches three meters wide and three meters high in the Benelux climate. The euonymus europaeus has a green bark, with green twigs and leaves. The leaves turn an orange-red color in autumn. It is striking that the twigs are almost always directly opposite each other within an angle of 90 degrees, which contrasts very nicely with each other. However, the most striking feature of the wild cardinal’s cap is its red fruit. The fruits are in orange-red boxes which contrast very nicely with the leaf. When the fruit pops open it looks just like a cardinal’s hat, which gives the plant its name cardinal’s hat. Although birds love the fruit, it is poisonous if ingested by humans.
Shapes wild cardinal’s hat
The wild cardinal’s hat comes in different shapes and sizes. Although they should be cared for in the same way, they don’t look any different. For example, you have the normal euonymus europaeus, which can grow to about 300 centimeters in height and width and can serve as an excellent solitary shrub. Another well-known cultivar of the plant is the euonymus europaeus ‘red cascade’, which is slightly smaller with a height and width of 200 to 250 centimetres. Because it is slightly smaller, it can, for example, be used more easily in smaller gardens and can be combined with it more easily. The wild cardinal’s hat can also be planted as a hedge. Each form of the plant is briefly explained below.
Common wild cardinal’s cap (euonymus europaeus)
The normal version of the wild cardinal’s hat is often used as a solitary shrub in the garden. This is because of its size: the plant is an average of 300 centimeters high and wide at an adult size. You often see the plant in landscaped gardens where there is more space and where nature can often take its course. However, the plant can also be used in a somewhat smaller garden. Although the plant can be placed in a border, you should make sure that other plants are not placed too close to the euonymus europaeus. Because of its size, the plant needs a lot of water and nutrition, which causes it to move a lot from the soil.
Euonymus europaeus ‘red cascade’
The europaeus ‘red cascade’ is a slightly smaller version of the normal version of the plant. The plant grows 200 to 250 centimeters high and wide, making it a little easier to place in smaller gardens. Although the plant looks a lot like the euonymus europaeus, there are a number of small differences between the plants in addition to size. For example, the fruits of the plant are bright red, in contrast to the orange-red fruits of the normal version. The branches of the plant also droop a bit more. The advantage is that it is easier to combine with the plant, because it is somewhat smaller.
Wild Cardinal’s Hat as a hedge
The wild cardinal’s hat is very suitable for creating a medium to high hedge. You can make an excellent landscape hedge with it, but the plant can also be used very well for hedgerows. The advantage of the plant as a hedge is that it is colorful, very compact, beautiful all year round, you do not have to prune the plant often (unlike many other hedge plants), the plant is nutritious and the plant is hardy. The only drawback of the euonymus europaeus as a hedge is that it is a deciduous species, so you can see through the hedge in winter. If you want to make a hedge with the plant, you should plant about three euonymus europaeus per metre.
Plant wild cardinal hat
The wild cardinal’s hat is a low-maintenance plant that does not need much. The plant can be placed in both partial shade and full sun. When the plant is placed in full sun, however, the leaves turn a nicer red during the fall. The best type of soil for the euonymus europaeus is sandy soil, but in principle the plant does well in almost any good garden soil. The plant can be pruned once a year to prevent lignification of the branches and to keep the branches in good shape. When planting, make sure that the plant has enough space to grow, as the euonymus europaeus grows to 300 centimeters and the euonymus europaeus ‘red cascade’ 200 to 250 centimeters high and wide.
Planting Euonymus europaeus
You can buy the wild cardinal’s hat both in pots and in open ground. However, the easiest and most accessible way is to buy the plant in a pot. When you buy the euonymus europaeus in a pot, you can plant the plant all year round, except when it freezes. When the plant is grown in the open ground, it is best to plant it between March and April or September and October. These are the periods when the plant can focus most of its attention on rooting. It is important to know that the plant must be watered regularly for the first two years. After two years, the roots have shot deep enough so that they can absorb enough water themselves. After two years you only need to water them during warm and dry periods. Because the plant is poisonous, it is recommended to use gardening gloves when planting.
Put on gardening gloves? Dig a hole that is just as high and twice as wide as the root ball. Add some fertilized garden soil to the soil and submerge the roots of the plant in a bucket of water. Then place the plant in the excavated hole. Make sure the root ball is level with the soil level. In any case, the root ball should not protrude above the ground, but slightly below it. Tamp the soil and then make sure that you provide the plant with enough water.
Flowering time euonymus europaeus
Although it is often thought that the fruits of the plant are the flowering, the plant also gets green and white flowers between the end of April and May. However, the flowering of the plant is very inconspicuous and disappears behind the leaf, so that it is often not even noticed. After flowering, the beautiful fruits will appear on the plant. Then the leaves of the plant start to turn red around July/September.
Wild cardinal hat care
Once in the right place, the wild cardinal’s hat does not require much care. The plant must be provided with extra water for the first two years, because the roots are often not yet deep enough. After the first two years, you only need to water the plant during dry or very hot periods. To prevent lignification of the branches and to keep the shape nice, you can prune the plant once a year. Immediately after pruning it is wise to fertilize the plant so that it recovers well.
Prune wild cardinal’s hat
The wild cardinal’s hat grows about 20 to 40 centimeters per year, so pruning once a year is more than sufficient. You can prune the branches with pruning shears, but loppers are also possible. The best time to prune is at the beginning of spring, at the end of March. You prune the plant as follows:
- Find old, dead branches or branches that are too long on the plant
- Prune branches with dead wood all the way back to the trunk. New, young branches will then grow here
- Prune damaged or broken branches back to the first branch in early spring with pruning shears or loppers.
- See if you like the shape of the plant. Trim some more if needed
- Add organic fertilizers to the plant to promote growth and recovery
Fertilize Wild Cardinal’s Hat
To promote recovery after pruning, it is best to fertilize the wild cardinal’s hat once a year with organic fertilizers. Although not necessary, the plant will recover faster and better from pruning. It is best to fertilize the plant immediately after pruning, so at the end of March. Make sure you mix the fertilizer well with the soil so that the nutrients are evenly distributed around the plant.
Is euonymus europaeus hardy and evergreen?
The wild cardinal’s hat has not been able to establish itself in the climate of the Benelux for nothing. The plant is very hardy and can withstand temperatures down to -30°C. So during the winter you don’t have to worry about the plant at all. Although the plant is very hardy, it is not evergreen. There are species such as the euonymus fortunei or the euonymus japonicus that are evergreen, but unfortunately the euonymus europaeus is not one of these. The plant begins to lose its leaves in winter. You don’t have to grieve about this though; even without leaves it still looks beautiful because of its cork frames around the branches.
Is wild cardinal’s hat poisonous?
The wild cardinal’s hat is a poisonous plant. When you get started with the plant, it is best to always work with gardening gloves. All parts of the plant are poisonous when ingested by humans, but the fruits are the most poisonous part of the plant. Consuming the fruit of the plant can cause drowsiness, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Birds such as thrushes, tits and robins, on the other hand, love the fruits. After you have started working with the plant, make sure you clean the gardening gloves properly and wash your own hands extra to be sure. That being said; as long as you do not consume the plant, there is nothing wrong with the plant.
Wild cardinal cap combine
Although the wild cardinal’s hat can serve excellently as a solitary shrub, you can also combine it very nicely. You can of course combine the plants with each other as a hedge, but you can also combine them with other plants. Especially the euonymus europaeus ‘red cascade’ can be combined well, because it is somewhat smaller. Some plants that you can combine the plant with are:
- Persian ironwood
- Lampbrush grass
Wild cardinal hat cuttings
The easiest way to propagate the wild cardinal’s hat is by cutting the plant. This is best done in the months of June, July or August. You propagate the plant as follows:
- Fill a pot with cutting soil
- Cut a branch about 15 centimeters between June and August. Make sure it is a sturdy branch and not a young twig
- Remove the leaves from the bottom 10 centimeters
- Place the plant in a small greenhouse or put a plastic bag around the pot and seal it
- Give the cutting a little water three times a week
- When roots have taken root, you can place the plant in the garden or in a larger pot (not when it freezes). You can check for roots by pulling very gently on the cutting. When the plant resists, roots have been shot
- Place the pot or plant in the garden and enjoy the plant
Want to buy cardinal hat
Convinced to buy the Wild Cardinal’s Hat? Fortunately, you can easily order the plant online. Click on the button below to order the euonymus europaeus.
Buy Euonymus europaeus ‘red cascade’
Prefer the slightly smaller version of the plant? Fortunately, you can also easily order the euonymus europaeus ‘red cascade’ online. Click on the button below to order the plant.