Spindle is a spreading deciduous shrub or small tree that has good autumn foliage colour and has small yellow flowers followed by red fruits with orange seeds. This is a great shrub for adding year round interest to the garden though be aware that all parts of the tree could cause serious discomfort if ingested.

Growing spindle:

Spindle can be grown in a variety of conditions. It can thrive in almost all soil conditions, though that soil should be moist but well-drained and waterlogging or drought will not be good for the plant. It can grow in full sun or in partial shade and can tolerate being in either a sheltered site or an exposed one. It is fully hardy in most places even when the winter weather is severe. It can stand temperatures down to about minus ten Celsius or even minus fifteen.

Spindle can grow up to around 9m in height if given the optimum growing conditions, though it will not usually reach more than 3m and is often a lot smaller even when fully mature. As a spreading plant it is good for hedging or screens in an informal or wildlife-focussed garden.

In the wild, spindle is found in woodlands and at the edge of woodlands and in scrub and hedgerows in England though it is less common in Scotland. As a native plant is it particularly useful as a habitat for native species.

Spindle flowers in May and June and the flowers are pollinated by insects. After they are pollinated they will develop their attractive pinkish-red fruits.

Spindle can be propagated by seed or by means of semi-hardwood cuttings. These semi-ripe cuttings are best taken in late summer or early autumn.

Why grow spindle in the garden?

Spindle is great for screening or hedging or to create year-round interest in a garden border, grown particularly for their autumn colour. It is good for attracting wildlife and creates a useful habitat for native creatures. The shrubs support a range of moth and butterfly caterpillars, attract aphids and also their predators, such as ladybirds. They also attract house sparrows and other bird species and the flowers are a rich source of pollen for insects.

Some believe that spindle is lucky. More concretely, the timber from this shrub has a variety of uses. Traditionally, as the name suggests, it was used for spindles, as well as knitting needles, skewers and pegs. Now, this hard, dense wood is used to create a high quality charcoal for the use of artists.  

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Euonymus europaeus