Pachysandra Plant – How to Plant, Grow and Care [Detailed Guide]

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Pachysandra terminalis, sometimes also called spurge or Japanese pachysandra, is a perennial plant cover useful for shaded places. Native to Japan and China, the pachysandra is resistant in resistance zones 5 to 9 of the United States Department of Agriculture. It grows 20 to 30 centimeters in height, eventually spreading through the rhizomes to form a green carpet. Pachysandra produces ears of small white flowers in the spring. Keep reading to know how to plant, grow, and care Pachysandra Plant.

Using Pachysandra to cover large areas is probably the most common use. But Pachysandra can’t stand foot treading or a strong rake, so don’t plant in an area that you will have to walk through. Remove the leaves with a very light touch with a rake.

Pachysandra is a wonderful base planting, as you can plant it right next to the house, but it will not block access to the house as shrubs and trees do.

How to Plant and Grow Pachysandra

There are several varieties of pachysandra available to choose from. The cultivation zone recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture for pachysandra is 4 to 7.

Pachysandra is easily transplanted from floors or garden divisions in the spring. Separate the plants from 15 to 30 cm to accommodate their distribution. Pachysandra prefers moist and modified soils with rich organic matter. Make sure that the planting area is free of debris before planting and that the soil is loose. The holes for the new plants should be 4 inches (10 cm) deep and 6 inches (15 cm) wide.

Pachysandra’s groundcover has evergreen leaves that burn in the sun. It is always best to plant on cloudy days and in shady places. Water young plants well and provide 5 cm of mulch to help retain water.

Pachysandra is very easy to plant and, once installed, completely fills the areas. The plantation does not require much time. Planting Pachysandra has become a tradition that the whole family participates in; it can be a lot of fun!

Pachysandra Plant
Pachysandra Plant

There are the best practices to ensure success to grow pachysandra:

  • Preparing to plant, loosen, or spray the entire surface of the land. If necessary, enrich with rotten barn manure, rotten leaves, or peat. Pachysandra thrives on soils with an acidic pH of about 6.0, and peat, which is slightly acidic with a pH of 4.5, will help to lower the overall soil PH.
  • Loosen the general soil to a depth of 3-4 inches. When the roots of the trees are close to the surface, such as under maples, linden trees, or elms, cut these shallow roots seven to eighteen centimeters deep with a sharp hoe; then add 3 to 4 inches of new topsoil as explained. In these well-prepared areas, the roots will spread quickly.
  • Most soils are suitable for growing pachysandra and other ground cover plants and require no more work than digging the soil a few inches deep before planting. Your soil in particular may not be bad, but if in doubt, it is good to follow the soil preparations as described.
  • Simply open up a small pocket in the loosened soil, place it on the plant and cover it lightly around the base of the plant.
  • The first watering after sowing should be thorough. Subsequent irrigation during the first season is beneficial and may be necessary, especially in periods without rain. Do not let the plants wither, a sign of lack of moisture. It is very important to remove weeds manually during the first and second years.
  • The best time to plant pachysandra is after the last frost in spring or autumn.
  • Pachysandra’s distinctive features include the ability to spread like a graceful ground cover and the fact that it is a perennial leaf makes it a popular choice.
  • Pachysandra is a member of the boxwood family; it is a cousin of the English and American boxwood that covers a thicker and more extensive soil with larger leaves. It also blooms with white flower tips in the spring.

How quickly does Pachysandra Spread

Pachysandra is a beautiful ground cover, but it grows very slowly. While trying to encourage it to fill up as quickly as possible, remember that pachysandra prefers moist, rich, and slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal) supplemented with plenty of organic matter.

Generally, one covering annual with the compound is sufficient to meet your needs, but in the beginning, you may want to complement it with a light application of balanced fertilizer granules in early spring and again in late spring.

A water-soluble fertilizer is also good, but not outdated with the fertilizer. Also remember that as your plantation competes with maples, it may be necessary to water it occasionally during periods of drought, even after it is established.

The plant does propagate through underground channels and it is true that a slight nip or nip in early spring can encourage plants to send more channels and thus thicken the planting faster. This can be done manually or, in some cases, with a lawnmower.

Remove a maximum of 25% of the height if you decide to do this. You can test it with some plants to see how they respond before committing to the procedure. If you trim them, make sure they are well watered for the next few months as they move towards more aggressive growth.

How much sun can Pachysandra Take

How much sun can Pachysandra Take? The morning sun is fine, but too much sun will cause the foliage to discolor, especially in winter. Plants that love the shade, such as pachysandra, can generally tolerate a little direct sunlight every day, as long as exposure to the sun is not prolonged.

Burnt leaves are the result of too much sun. Affected leaves die before unaffected leaves, but occasional sunburn does not usually kill vigorous plants like pachysandra.

Problems arise when growing conditions change, for example, when a mature tree is cut down, suddenly leaving an area that was previously shaded by a strong sun. In such cases, the constant bombardment of sunlight can kill patches of pachysandra plants.

how to grow Pachysandra Plant
grow Pachysandra Plant

Does Pachysandra like sun or shade

Does Pachysandra like sun or shade? Pachysandra likes to live in shady places and doesn’t like a lot of sunlight. If planted in the sun or in a poorly drained area, the leaves can become chlorotic or yellow.

It is important that the foliage is protected from the sun in both winter and summer, otherwise, it can burn.

Pachysandra tolerates a wide variety of soils, from humid to well drain and from clayey to sandy. Although it prefers an acidic environment, it also grows in neutral to slightly alkaline soils. It can tolerate a little drought, once well established, but improves with more water during periods of drought.

How do you care for Pachysandra

How to care for Pachysandra plant? Yes, you can care for Pachysandra plant in following the below steps:

  • Watering
  • Light
  • Temperature
  • Propagation
  • Pruning
  • Flowering
  • Common Pests and Diseases

Pachysandra is the perfect low-maintenance ground cover in shaded areas. And it can grow in most temperature zones. If you are looking for beautiful ground cover plants and want to learn how to grow and care for them, this is the guide for you.

grow Pachysandra Plant

#1- Watering

Young Pachysandra plants should be watered regularly until a strong root system develops. When the plant is mature with a good set of strong roots, it will be drought-tolerant and will need much less irrigation.   

A mature Pachysandra prefers moist soil, so try to water it regularly to prevent the soil from drying out completely, but if it does, your plant should be fine as long as you don’t have to go without water for a long time.

It is a good idea to use a few inches of mulch on top of the soil where Pachysandra was planted, as this will help the soil retain moisture and prevent the plant from drying out. During the winter, you will not need to water the plant.

#2- Light

This plant does best in full shade. It is an ideal plant to use as a ground cover under the shade of large trees where grass and most other plants would not survive, or to create a green blanket under shrubs.

Pachysandra loves full shade and, when these ideal conditions are met, she will grow to 25 centimeters in height. When grown in partial shade and partial sun, you can expect that your plant will not perform as well, with a greater likelihood of growing up to about 6 inches tall. The plant is much more tolerant of the summer sun in the winter sun and may have difficulty dealing with the light of the sun at lower temperatures.          

If you need to plant your Pachysandra in a location with partial sunlight, make sure it receives morning sun and afternoon shade so that it is protected from the strongest daylight. You will know that your plant is getting a lot of suns if the leaves start to become discolored, in which case you should consider moving your plant to a more suitable location with more shade.

#3- Temperature

Pachysandra plants are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. They are not sensitive to frost and are resistant to USDA zones 3-9.

#4- Propagation

Pachysandra can be propagated with stem or split cuttings. The split method will produce faster results, but stem cuttings take root easily, so both methods are likely to result in successful propagation.

To propagate from stem cuttings, you will need to select a plant cut that is about ten centimeters long. Choose a stem that is ripe at the base with new leaf growth at the tip and avoid stems with buds or flowers. Make the cut just below a set of leaves, then remove all leaves from the lower half of the cut stem.

Prepare a small pot of moist culture medium and drill a hole in the center with the blunt tip of a pencil. Dip the cut end of the stem into the rooting hormone and insert it into the prepared hole, with the leaves below ground level. Keep the soil moist and keep the pot in a warm position.

The roots should appear in six to eight weeks. You will know that rooting occurred by looking for new growth on the stake or by gently pulling on the stem to feel resistance below ground level. Once rooting has taken place, you should wait another four weeks before transplanting the seedling to an outdoor shaded location, planted directly in the soil.

You can propagate groups of this plant by division every four to five years. To do this, water the plants generously the night before, and then dig them up carefully with a shovel the next morning in cold weather.

Once removed from the soil, divide the root into two or more sections with a sharp knife and then replant the pachysandra in new locations. Water generously for several weeks after planting, and the newly divided plants should be spread out to cover more ground.

#5- Pruning

If you are a practical gardener and prefer plants that are cared for mainly without any intervention from you, Pachysandra can satisfy this need. It will grow and create a green blanket, whether you can prune it or not, but if you want to get the most out of this plan, pruning is recommended.

When you plant your pachysandra in the spring, you should trim the ends until it is about half the size before. This plant responds well to pruning and the cut will encourage it to grow and become a complete blanket. Over time, if you notice any gaps in the plant, cut the tips of the stem in that area, as they will respond with more growth and fill in the gaps.     

Cutting your Pachysandra annually in the spring will help keep the plant clean, but it will also encourage new growth and keep its foliage looking fresh and shiny. You can trim it with pruning shears or, if you have a large area filled with several Pachysandra plants, a lawnmower may be more viable.

Place the mower in the highest position, ideally around ten to twelve centimeters, and cut Pachysandra’s grass to trim the height. Be careful not to damage the plants and check that the cutter blades are in good condition.

You can check for loose stones or other debris around the plant before proceeding, so as not to damage the cutter’s blades. Pachysandra will respond to the cut with dense new growth.

#6- Flowering

The flowers bloom on this plant from late spring to summer. The flowers are small and white in color, with a sweet scent. They have a cute quality and are not particularly noticeable. The bright green foliage is generally considered to be the main attraction and the real star of the Pachysandra show.       

7# Common Pests and Diseases

One of the many benefits of this plant is that it is free from pests and diseases. Most commonly, the pests that affect Pachysandra are snails and slugs. 

Are Pachysandra poisonous to Dogs

Are Pachysandra poisonous to Dogs? Not really but eating large amounts can be harmful to dogs.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture and the University of California – Davis, pachysandra plants are not toxic to dogs.

Although pachysandra is classified as a safe plant, eating large amounts can be harmful to your dog. It is best to keep an eye on your dog when he is playing outdoors to prevent him from accidentally eating plants and foliage from the garden.

Should you Trim Pachysandra

Should you Trim Pachysandra? Yes. You can cut the ends until it is about half the size before. This plant responds well to pruning and the cut will encourage it to grow and become a complete blanket.

Over time, if you notice any gaps in the plant, cut the tips of the stem in that area, as they will respond with more growth and fill in the gaps.

Cutting your Pachysandra annually in the spring will help keep the plant clean, but it will also encourage new growth and keep its foliage looking fresh and shiny. You can trim it with pruning shears or, if you have a large area filled with several Pachysandra plants, a lawn mower may be more viable.    

Place the mower in the highest position, ideally around ten to twelve centimeters, and cut Pachysandra’s grass to trim the height. Be careful not to damage the plants and check that the cutter blades are in good condition.

You can check for loose stones or other debris around the plant before proceeding, so as not to damage the cutter’s blades. Pachysandra will respond to the cut with dense new growth.

How far apart should you plant Pachysandra

In general, small pachysandra plants should be planted 15 to 30 centimeters apart, but you can plant them more densely if you want them to occupy an area quickly. The newly planted pachysandra requires regular irrigation until the roots are established.

The mature pachysandra requires about 1 inch of water per week during its period of active growth. Pachysandra can withstand the occasional dryness, but works best when kept moist. Placing a light cover around the plants will help maintain optimal moisture levels and also help control weeds.

You can encourage plants to grow more densely by trimming the tips of the vigorous stems in the spring. Ohio State University notes that care is needed when sweeping fallen leaves from pachysandra trees in the fall, as the semi-hardwood stems of mature plants break easily.

What is the best fertilizer for Pachysandra

  • Fertilize your pachysandra beds annually with a balanced granular fertilizer. This will not only help to promote good color but will also help to fill in the finer areas. In addition, nutrient-deficient plants are often more susceptible to disease.
  • Fertilize at planting time, or in the spring before new growth begins, with a balanced or low phosphorus fertilizer, such as 12-12-12 or 8-5-5.
  • Spread slow-release fertilizer on the soil around the plant, according to the rates indicated on the label. The slow-release fertilizer will last for the entire season.
  • Add a balanced liquid or granular fertilizer in the spring before new growth begins and again in early autumn if you are not using a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Add fertilizer to the soil under the plant’s foliage. Water the soil after fertilization to spread the fertilizer on the roots of the plants.
Pachysandra Plant caring tips

Why is my Pachysandra Yellow

Pachysandra can turn yellow due to the volutella blight, a fungus that begins as small brown spots on the leaves until tanning, which increases to form spots. These spots can spread and coalesce, causing the foliage to die.

Concentric line patterns form within brown spots as the leaves turn yellow and fall off. The infected stems will turn brown to black and will die. The circular areas of propagation of the diseased plants will be observed in the planning of the pachysandra as the disease progresses.

The Volutella blight is especially severe when the plants are full and when wet and humid conditions prevail. Plants damaged by winter, stressed by drought or infested with insects will be more susceptible to this disease.

Pachysandra is a shade-tolerant ground cover that will develop a general yellow hue with lots of sun. There may also be some burning at the edges of the leaves, but usually the plants do not completely wilt.

To avoid this problem, adopt good cultural practices to keep your plants as healthy as possible, which in turn will reduce insect and disease problems. Water your pachysandra during dry periods and treat insects as needed. Water the plant early in the day for the foliage to dry before the end of the afternoon.

Does Pachysandra attract Ticks

Pachysandra provides good ground cover, so it is not pachysandra, it is the ground cover to give rise to ticks because ticks prefer humid, shady places and infest ground cover, tall grass, and weeds, shrubs, and trash. Keep the grass as short and open as possible in direct sunlight.      

Can you put too much coffee grounds in your garden

Because of its acidic nature, the coffee ground makes good acid mulch. In addition, ground coffee is a good source of nitrogen, so too much ground coffee can adversely affect your plant due to its nitrogen content.

Second, coffee beans are acidic in nature, so many nutrients are not available to plants when the pH is low, from neutral to acidic.

Ground coffee is best for plants of an acidic nature. Therefore, apply coffee powder in limited quantities. Working the coffee beans in the soil will improve your cultivation, but do it in moderation unless you have acid-like plants like camellias and azaleas.

When can you transplant Pachysandra

When can you transplant Pachysandra? The pachysandra can be transplanted at any time during their growing season, it is best to move the plant in early spring, when it is ready to produce new growth.

It is also successfully transplanted in late spring and early summer, but when the weather is cold and not during a hot and dry period. Do not transplant the pachysandra in the fall, as a new tumor that develops soon after the change can be harmed by the cold of winter.

If it’s falling when you decide to start new planting pachysandra, it will take some time to prepare the new site and delay the move until the following spring.

Transplanted pachysandra plants need their location to remain well watered, with about 1 inch of water per week, including rain. Add a layer of organic cover 3 to 4 inches thick to the soil surface around each plant, but without touching the plants, to help conserve soil moisture, preventing weeds from competing for water and soil nutrients.

Japanese pachysandra is resistant in plant resistance zones 5 to 9 of the US Department of Agriculture. It can spread aggressively and become invasive, sending rhizomes underground to new areas, a trend you can control by circling the planting area with an edge barrier that extends approximately 6 inches deep in the ground.

Pachysandra grows best in soils rich in organic matter. Therefore, prepare the new planting site by mixing compost in the top 4 to 6 inches of soil, breaking all clods of soil and revolving the soil well.

Dig a hole for each group of pachysandra and plant each group at the same depth as the soil where it was planted in the previous location. Since the rest of each hole is filled with soil, the soil must be well punched.

Wet the soil around each transplant to remove air pockets around the roots. If you move multiple plants, move them 15 to 30 cm apart to make room for new growth.

How do you move Pachysandra

How do you move Pachysandra? Yes. You can move the pachysandra by extracting plants with underground stems, or rhizomes, which develop roots as they grow. Loosen those extending out of the group, and then cut them off, keeping them with the group as you move it.

Using a sharp spade to dig up each pachysandra transplant is the best practice, cutting a bunch of stems and digging under the bunch to dislodge the roots before lifting it. Sanitizing your tools between cuts, cleaning them with isopropyl alcohol, will help prevent the spread of disease in plants.

Can you grow Pachysandra from Cuttings

Can you grow Pachysandra from Cuttings? Yes you can easily grow Pachysandra from cuttings.

Yes, pachysandra can be easily propagated from cuttings. Pachysandra is propagated by rhizomes (underground stems). To start a new plant, you need to plant a part of the rhizome. The easiest way to obtain a section of the rhizome is to gently pull the stem of the plant above the ground, pulling a length (6 to 10 inches or more) of the rhizome.

The best way to do this is when the soil is very humid, so choose a day after the rain for the best results. The section you pull should have some roots, the more the better. The roots are quite short, 5 to 10 centimeters in length.

When you’re ready to plant, wrap the rhizome in a small coil (around your hand works perfectly) and place the plant in a hole about 15 centimeters deep and wide. Your new plants should be placed about 20 inches apart.

The closer they are, the sooner the area will fill up.

Newly planted pachysandra beds need weekly irrigation and weeding. It is beneficial to apply organic mulch around the plants and a slow-release fertilizer. You should start your new plants in the middle of spring so that they are well established before having to endure the heat and drought of the summer.

So don’t hesitate to ask your neighbor in the beautiful pachysandra bed to make some cuts for you. Your bed will benefit, and with just a little more work than necessary to buy your plants in the nursery, you will be rewarded with your own attractive free bed from this popular ground cover.

Will Pachysandra kill other Plants

Will Pachysandra kill other Plants? Yes Pachysandra plant can kill other plants.

Pachysandra will kill other plants so that they will not survive. Plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas are plants with shallow roots and will be deprived of nutrients and water by much more aggressive pachysandra.

If you discover that your garden is invaded by this vegetation cover, you will need to know how to control the pachysandra plant.

If you want to get rid of pachysandra then there are three ways to get rid of pachysandra in the garden, and none of them are particularly pleasant.

  • Dig it up: Digging is hard work, but it is safe for the environment and works well in small areas. Pachysandra has a superficial root system. To ensure that you get all the roots, cut the foliage and remove the first 10 to 15 cm of soil from the area where the plants are growing.
  • Cover it with black plastic: The soil under the plastic will heat up and the plastic will deprive the plants of sunlight and water. The downside is that it is ugly and takes three months to a year to completely kill the plants. Plants in shaded areas require more time.

Kill it with chemicals: This is a method of last resort, but if your choice is between using chemicals and handing your garden over to pachysandra weeds, this may be an option for you.

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I hope now you get enough ideas to plant grow and care Pachysandra plant in your garden. Also, it answers a few FAQs on Pachysandra:

  • How to Plant and Grow Pachysandra
  • How quickly does Pachysandra Spread
  • How much sun can Pachysandra Take
  • Does Pachysandra like sun or shade
  • How do you care for Pachysandra
  • Are Pachysandra poisonous to Dogs
  • Should you Trim Pachysandra
  • How far apart should you plant Pachysandra
  • What is the best fertilizer for Pachysandra
  • Why is my Pachysandra Yellow
  • Does Pachysandra attract Ticks
  • Can you put too much coffee grounds in your garden
  • When can you transplant Pachysandra
  • How do you move Pachysandra
  • Can you grow Pachysandra from Cuttings
  • Will Pachysandra kill other Plants