How To Grow And Care For Pachysandra Plants

Do you have a low-light area in your garden? Have you tried to grow plants there, but they do not seem to thrive? Then we have a solution for you! Why not try growing Pachysandra?

The Pachysandra thrives in low light and is a low-growing plant ideal for ground cover.

The Japanese spurge, another common name, provides a lush forest-green carpet with low maintenance and is drought tolerant of living long in gardens. 😄

Plant Name: Pachysandra

Other Name: Japanese Pachysandra and Allegheny Pachysandra

Plant Type: Evergreen Perennials

Native Areas: Japan, China, United States

Light Requirement: Shady spot

Watering: Moderate

Fertilizer: Organic matter

Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

Temperature: Cooler Regions

Propagation: Cuttings

Growth: Foot tall and two feet wide

Soil Type: Slightly acidic soil

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9

What is Pachysandra

Pachysandra plants are shrubby vegetation that belongs to the Buxaceae or boxwood family. People use it primarily as ground cover in shady spots.

Pachysandra has dark green leaves and can bloom white flowers in spring. These plants are drought tolerant, growing up to a foot tall and two feet wide, depending on the variety you have.

In most USDA hardiness zones, they grow as an evergreen perennial, but some can have deciduous leaves in certain growing zones. In the genus, you can find two types available:

  • First, you have the Pachysandra terminalis, the Japanese Pachysandra or Japanese Spurge. The plant native to Japan and China is considered more invasive.

  • Secondly, you have the Pachysandra procumbens, the Allegheny Pachysandra, or Allegheny spurge. The plant is native to the United States and easier to control.

Several Varieties of Pachysandra Plants

While there are two main types of the plant, Pachysandra cultivars available that fall within the two categories:

  • Pachysandra terminalis, the Japanese spurge, is a herbaceous perennial with a green sheen on the leaves. The foliage is dark green, and the plants can reach 12 inches tall. It has a more upright growth.

  • The Green Carpet is another Pachysandra terminalis variety with a more compact and shorter growth reaching eight inches tall to grow as ground cover.

  • The Silver Edge is another Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis) with variegated green foliage and white-lined edges. It is slow growing compared to the other species. It also goes by the name Japanese Pachysandra.

  • The Allegheny spurge or Pachysandra procumbens has a less stiff growth with a fleshy stalk that forms low on the stems with fragrant flowers in a white color compared to Japanese Pachysandra. You can find some Allegheny spurge plants with leaves containing traces of purple with a less shiny appearance.

Caring For Pachysandra

Pachysandra plant

In spring, you will see the green sheen on the Japanese Pachysandra emerging, and it contrasts nicely when mature, turning to dark green. It blooms fragrant flowers in white openings in the growing season.

You find separate male and female flowers forming on one plant. Then you have your Allegheny spurge that blooms male and female flowers with bottlebrush spikes. The bloom period is similar to the Japanese Pachysandra.

The care requirements for both when planting Pachysandra are similar and have the same needs.

Where to Plant Pachysandra

These plants help with soil erosion and are low-growing plants. You can also grow them in established beds to control underground stems that help with erosion control.

Furthermore, they are commonly planted in partial to full shade in a planting area where most other plants do not grow.

Another important thing when planting is to provide these plants with enough space and air circulation to grow.

Planting Pachysandra Ground Cover and Lighting Needs

Pachysandra plants in full sun

Pachysandra terminalis and Pachysandra procumbens grow in challenging conditions where many plants do not grow, and that is shady areas. Provide your plants with morning sun 🌞 and partial shade in the afternoon.

These plants can even thrive in full shade. But too much exposure to full sun for hours results in the beautiful green leaves turning brown. The same can happen during cold temperatures causing brown patches.

Recommended Soil pH For Pachysandra Plants

loamy, mineral rich clay soil of pachysandra

Whether you have the Japanese or the Allegheny Pachysandra, they do not have specific soil needs. You can grow them in chalk, loam, clay, and sandy soil.

Fill up the planting area with a content of high organic matter. The soil pH should be a bit more on the acidic side, but it can survive in neutral to alkaline soil.

The important thing is to keep the soil moist for the rhizomes to spread over the ground.

Watering Pachysandra Plants

As with most plants, your Pachysandra prefers well-drained soil to prevent root rot. When grown, it needs moist soil for vigorous growth. But we recommend avoiding overhead watering as it can lead to leaf blight. As your plants grow in part shade, they will not need as much watering as your other plants growing in direct sunlight.

Fertilizing Your Plant Pachysandra

organic compost for pachysandra

When preparing the planting area, do it on an overcast day in your garden. For these shrubs, you can work in organic compost when planted and once a year to help keep the soil balanced with nutrients. To help retain moisture, you can add a layer of mulch around the planting area.

Pruning Pachysandra

You can use a clean pair of shears to cut back your established plants before new growth appears. You can also give the tips of the plant a clipping to encourage air circulation, and it gives your plant dense growth.

Propagating Pachysandra

Whether you have the Allegheny or Japanese Spurge, you can propagate them using cuttings in the growing season.

  1. Fill a container with moist soil using three parts sterile compost and one part perlite.

  2. Cut a five-inch piece from the tip of a healthy stem, and avoid using stems with active buds or flowers. Cut a set of leaves with an angled cut.

  3. Remove the leaves at the bottom and leave the top ones in place.

  4. Dust the cut end with a rooting hormone powder and insert the cutting with the lowest set of removed leaves into the mixture.

  5. Set the pot in bright indirect sunlight to shield it from the sun and wind.

  6. Keep the moisture in the soil constant until it roots.

  7. Check for root development in two months by tugging gently at the base.

  8. Then once rooted, transplant your cutting into an established shade bed a month after rooting. Space multiple plants a foot apart to grow as ground cover.

Common Pest and Diseases

A common disease on the Allegheny and Japanese spurge is volutella, a common boxwood disease. You will notice yellow stems, and it dries out and dies. You can prune the diseased plant.

Another concern is leaf blight that happens from overhead watering. You can treat your plants with a fungicide. A pest that can become a problem is the euonymus scale that covers the green leaves.

It eats up the juices from the plant and leaves behind a wax coating that smothers plants. The best solution is to remove all the infected plants to start over again.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Ohio State University, the plant is rabbit and deer resistant as the foliage is toxic but not fatal for plant-eating mammals. Mice or birds eat the seeds, which are not harmful to humans and pets.


Yes, the Pachysandra does flower, and it happens in early spring displaying white blooms, but it depends on the variety.

You can plant them at the start of the growing season or early fall to establish before winter.

It is relatively simple to transplant them, but it is best done on an overcast day when not warm or dry.

Choose a spot in the garden where your plants, after being planted, can receive partial to full shade.

The roots can grow deep, so you must dig a hole a couple of inches to plant your sprouts. Then add a few inches of soil on top of your native soil.

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