How To Grow & Care For Pachysandra


Pachysandra, a favorite among landscape gardeners, is known for its dense and lush evergreen foliage. It’s often used as a ground cover, especially in shaded areas where grass and other plants might struggle to thrive. With attractive, shiny leaves and small white flowers that bloom in the spring, Pachysandra creates a soothing green backdrop in gardens.

Belonging to the Buxaceae family, the most commonly grown species include Pachysandra terminalis, also known as Japanese Spurge, and Pachysandra procumbens, or Allegheny Spurge. These plants are particularly popular in the eastern United States, where they provide year-round greenery and require relatively low maintenance.

Despite its popularity, Pachysandra isn’t without controversy. It can become invasive if not controlled, spreading quickly through underground stems. Moreover, it can be prone to certain diseases if not properly cared for. Nevertheless, with proper planting and care, Pachysandra can be an elegant and functional addition to the garden landscape.

Common NamesJapanese Spurge, Allegheny Spurge
Botanical NamePachysandra terminalis, Pachysandra procumbens
Plant TypeEvergreen ground cover
Mature Size8 to 12 inches tall
Sun ExposurePartial to full shade
Soil TypeMoist, well-drained, acidic soil
Hardiness Zones4 to 8
Native AreaEastern Asia, southeastern United States

Pachysandra Care

Pachysandra is a hardy plant that thrives in shade, making it an excellent choice for those tricky areas of the garden where other plants might struggle. It prefers consistently moist soil but can tolerate some drought once established.

Fertilizing Pachysandra in the early spring helps promote growth, and occasional pruning can keep its spread under control. While it can be an aggressive grower, with proper care, Pachysandra can be a beautiful, low-maintenance ground cover.

Light Requirement for Pachysandra

Pachysandra prefers partial to full shade. While it can tolerate some sunlight, too much direct sun can scorch the leaves and inhibit growth. Planting Pachysandra under trees or in shaded areas of the garden can provide optimal conditions.

Soil Requirements for Pachysandra

Pachysandra thrives in moist, well-drained, acidic soil. Incorporating organic matter into the soil at the time of planting can improve the soil structure and provide the nutrients Pachysandra needs to grow.

Water Requirements for Pachysandra

Pachysandra needs consistent moisture, especially during the first year after planting. Once established, it can tolerate some drought but performs best when the soil is kept evenly moist.

Temperature and Humidity

Pachysandra is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 and prefers moderate temperatures. It can tolerate some humidity but might struggle in excessively dry or wet conditions.


Fertilizing Pachysandra in early spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer can promote lush growth. It’s typically not necessary to fertilize more than once a year.

Pruning Pachysandra

Pruning can be done to control the spread of Pachysandra and keep it looking tidy. Cutting back the plant in early spring can encourage new growth and maintain its appearance.

Propagating Pachysandra

Pachysandra can be propagated by division or stem cuttings. Simply take a cutting or divide a clump and plant it in a new location. Water well and provide shade until established.

How To Grow Pachysandra From Seed

Growing Pachysandra from seed is a slower process and can be more challenging. Sow the seeds indoors or in a shaded nursery bed, keeping the soil moist. Transplant the seedlings once they are large enough to handle.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Scale Insects

These can be treated with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.

Volutella Blight

Avoid overwatering and provide good air circulation to prevent this fungal disease.

Common Problems With Pachysandra

Yellowing Leaves

This may be a sign of too much sunlight or poor soil conditions. Adjust as needed.

Invasive Growth

Pachysandra can spread aggressively. Plant it where its growth can be controlled, or be prepared to prune it back as needed.

Pro Tips

  1. Plant Pachysandra in the spring or early fall for the best results.
  2. Water deeply but less frequently to encourage strong root growth.
  3. Provide mulch to help retain soil moisture and control weeds.
  4. Monitor for signs of disease and treat promptly to prevent spreading.
  5. Choose the right species for your region and soil conditions.