How to Care for Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

Pachysandra or Pachysandra Ground Cover is not a single plant species, but it is a group or genre of five plant species that are used as the ground covers, these are evergreen, perennial small shrubs, from the boxwood family of Buxaceae. Four of these are native to Asia and one is native to southeast North America.

Pachysandra is mostly grown as a ground cover in shady places, such as under the trees where most other plants die as they can’t get enough light because of the tree shade, but Pachysandra can easily grow under any shade as they don’t require that much amount of light.

Pachysandra grows small white-colored flowers with a pleasant fragrance and dark green leaves that give it a beautiful appearance. Growing Pachysandra is very easy if you have a shady place in your house garden yards or landscapes. They can also be grown in the acidic (pH 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal) soil areas where most other plants die because of the acidic nature of the soil.

Pachysandra can reach a height of upto 20–45 cm (7.9–17.7 in), they have a very weak woody stem that mostly bends when overweight. All these species of Pachysandra can be grown in the US growing zones from 4 to 7. Each plant can spread almost 6 to 12 inches from the place it is grown, so you need to plant their seeds accordingly to give them room for expansion.

Species of Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

There are five different species of the Pachysandra, they belong to China, India, Japan, Myanmar, and southeast North America. Below are the details of each of these five species of the Pachysandra.

Pachysandra Axillaris

The Pachysandra Axillaris belongs to the eastern parts of China, it can reach upto 30-50 cm in height and each plant can expand around almost 20 to 40 cm around its weak stem. Its leaves can be ovate to oblong in the shape and can be of upto 15 to 25 cm in length and 2 to 5 cm in width. These leaves also have tomentose (small hairs) along the midrib and the veins.

Mostly their flowers are white but due to the acidity and lack of nutrients, there can be seen red flowers on the Pachysandra Axillaris plants, and the inflorescence is mostly erect or pendulous. They also grow small fruits measuring about 1 mm in diameter. The fruit turns yellow to reddish-purple when they ripe.

Their flowering season is mostly in the summer, and these flowers turn into the fruit at the end of the summer. They can be grown anywhere in the world if you provide them a shady place and nutrient-rich soil.

Pachysandra Procumbens

Pachysandra procumbens is also known as the Allegheny pachysandra or Allegheny spurge is native to the southeast United States from West Virginia and Kentucky south to Florida, and west to Louisiana. This is also an evergreen flowering shrub, grown for the ground covers, and it is the only one that is native to the United States.

Pachysandra Procumbens plants can grow upto 30 cm in height and it has smaller leaves (5 to 10 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide). The leaves are green and have coarsely toothed margins on both sides.

They grow small white-colored flowers during the days of the spring, these flowers have a pleasant fragrance. They spread slowly in the dense cover under the shades. They require an acidic and nutrient-rich soil with a proper water supply.

Pachysandra Coriacea

The Pachysandra Coriacea belongs to India, Nepal, and Myanmar regions. it can reach upto 30-40 cm in height and they spread quickly along with its stem. Their leaves can be ovulated to oblong in the shape and can be of upto 5 to 10 cm in length and 2 to 4 cm in width. The color of leaves is mostly pale green to dark green depending upon the soil

They also white-colored flowers with a pleasant smell. These flowers mostly grow in the clusters on the terminal branches of the plants. These flowers turn into the small fruits after the spring season and these fruits contain the small seeds of this plant.

Pachysandra Coriacea plants can be grown anywhere in the world if you can provide them a nutrient-rich acidic soil and a shady place. They thrive under the shade, so they are mostly grown for landscape covers. They can also be grown in different parts of the United States.

Pachysandra Stylosa

Pachysandra Stylosa is also a plant from the Pachysandra genre and is known as Chinese Sprague and Chinese Pachysandra, they have similar characteristics and are grown in similar conditions. They are native to mildly cold mountainous parts of China and Taiwan. They are also evergreen and grown for covers under the shade in landscapes in China.

Pachysandra Stylosa has green colored leaves that are arranged in an opposite formation on the branches. These leaves create a green cover. They also have tiny pinkish-white flowers that grow in the spikes on the terminal spots of the branches.

They mostly grow flowers during the spring season and when the spring ends these flowers start turning into small-sized fruits. These fruits contain the seeds when they ripe and these seeds are mostly used to grow the new Pachysandra Stylosa plants.

Pachysandra Terminalis

Pachysandra Terminalis is also known as the Japanese Pachysandra, Carpet Box and Japanese Spurge is native to Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, and southeast North America. This species of Pachysandra has won awards including the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This is a slow-growing and evergreen shrub of small size (only 24 inches tall and 6 inches spread). Pachysandra Terminalis grows small branches and these branches are covered with leaves.

Their leaves are green but turn pale yellow during the winter season. They have tiny white-colored flowers that grow on the tip of foliage. Their flowering starts in March and ends in April. They can survive the cold temperatures and can be grown into the cold regions.

They can easily be grown in acidic soil, cold environments, and under the shade. Most of the time they are propagated by dividing, transplanting the clumps, and rooting the stems of the Pachysandra Terminalis. They need a proper supply of water and fertilizers for faster growth.

How to Water Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

Pachysandra plants require proper and regular watering during the first few months of its growth, once it has established a strong underground root system it will be able to get water from the soil and it will also be able to tolerate the drought for a few days. Mature plants of the Pachysandra can mostly tolerate the drought conditions for almost 15 days. But the drought conditions can slow their growth, their proper growth requires proper and sufficient watering.

Follow these instructions for watering the Pachysandra:

  • If you have just planted the Pachysandra plants and they are not mature, you need to provide them water regularly. Mostly they require watering every 5 to 7 days as they need the soil to be moist.
  • Mature plants also like moist soil, but they are also capable of surviving the drought conditions for the short term. So, if you forget to water them for a few days or if you were unable to water them for a few days, they will be able to survive this.
  • You should water them more often during the summer days, but in the winter, they do not require that much watering. If you have grown them in a soil that has a mulch layer, they will be able to better survive the less frequent watering as the mulch can store the water for the long term.
  • You can create a watering schedule for your Pachysandra plants based on environment, climate, and seasonal factors. Mostly they require watering once every 7 days in the summer.

Lighting and Temperature needs for Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

Pachysandra plants do not like the direct sunlight as it can burn their leaves, they are more successfully grown under the shade of trees. They show optimum growth under the full shade. The young plants are more vulnerable to the impacts of full sunlight, once they mature, they can survive under the partial sunlight as well. Almost all these species have similar light requirements, they all like to be grown under the shade, away from the sunlight. They thrive under the shade, but they cannot even grow properly under the full sunlight.

Pachysandra plants like to be grown in mildly cold environments. They are cold hardy plants; they grow very well even in the mountainous regions. They cannot survive the frost conditions for the long term and will die because their foliage is too weak, and their leaves die due to the frost. In hot regions, they can be grown but you need to provide them a preferred temperature, in very hot regions they might die due to the heat and dry conditions.

Soil needs for Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

They can survive the different types of soils including the clay, but they thrive in well-draining but slightly moist soil. If soil remains moist for the long term, that is not good for their roots.

The pH of the soil

They need slightly acidic soil for proper growth, a soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5, they can also be grown in neutral and slightly alkaline soils, but they thrive in the acidic soil. In the alkaline soils, their growth is very slow as compared to the acidic soils.

In most of the regions, the garden soil has a pH below 7.0, which means most of the garden soils are already acidic. That is why you can grow them anywhere in the world. You can test the pH of the soil before planting the Pachysandra plants to know about the pH level of the soil.

If your soil is less acidic or is alkaline you can add limestone, Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron into your soil to make it more acidic. Apart from this, you need a soil that is rich in nutrients as the Pachysandra requires plenty of nutrients from the ground for proper growth. You can add mulch and organic compost for this purpose as well.

Fertilizer for Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

The Pachysandra ground cover plants require a proper fertilizer supply to thrive. They show a slow growth when grown without fertilizers. To boost their growth, you can add houseplant fertilizer in the soil before planting them. You can also add fertilizers directly to the soil around the plants after plantation as well.

You can also fertilize your plants by creating a mixture of house plant fertilizer and water, and then feed this mixture to your plants once every two months. They do not like overfeeding fertilizers as this can harm their roots and that can cause them to wilt and die.

When you are applying fertilizers to your plants, it is advised to read the instructions that are written on the label regarding the proper use of fertilizers.

How to Prune Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

Pachysandra plants do not require a periodic pruning, but if you want to make them look better you can prune them once a year before the start of the spring when the plant will grow new leaves. The pruning is considered helpful when your plants are spreading all over the landscape and you want to regulate their spread.

This is also helpful in keeping your plants neat, and this will also encourage the growth of new leaves and new branches on these small shrubs. If you have a small number of Pachysandra plants you can easily prune them with the help of a garden shear, but if you have a larger landscape covered with the Pachysandra plants, you need to use the lawnmower. Set your lawnmower to maximum settings and then use it.

How to Propagate Pachysandra (Pachysandra Ground Cover)

Before planting them, you need to check the pH of the soil and you need to bring it below the 6.0, by adding the required amount of materials. Then you need to add mulch and fertilizers and water the soil before planting. Make sure that the soil is well-draining and has more sand in it.

Pachysandra species can be grown by different methods including the growing from seeds, foliage, and division methods. To grow a proper cover or bed of these plants you need to mark the soil in an alternative manner, then plant the seeds or divided stems or foliage in these marked spots. After plantation, water them and let them grow.

They will sprout and start showing signs of growth in a few days. The best time to plant them is the start of the spring. Keep the soil moist once you have planted them, this will help them in the early growth and will allow their root system to properly settle in the soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is Japanese Pachysandra invasive?

Answer: Yes, The Japanese Pachysandra is an invasive plant species that are grown for covers under the shades, but it quickly spreads all over the gardens and yards. Once you have planted it this will be very difficult for you to completely remove this from your garden.

Question: Are Pachysandra species deer resistant?

Answer: Yes, the Pachysandra species are deer resistant, these species can grow once they are grazed and most of the animals do not like grazing these as well.

Question: Are Pachysandra species drought tolerant?

Answer: The newly grown and small plants are not drought tolerant but once they grow and mature, their roots establish properly in the ground, they can tolerate the drought to some extent. Their growth is mostly slowed once they face drought conditions. So that is why it is advised to keep water them according to the schedule.

Question: Is Holly Tone good for Pachysandra?

Answer: Pachysandra plants species like the acidic fertilizers and the Holly Tone fertilizer is a slow-releasing acidic fertilizer. This will help the soil maintain an acidic pH and help these plants thrive. That is the reason the Holly Tone fertilizers are considered good for the Pachysandra.

Question: Is Miracle Grow good for Pachysandra?

Answer: No, the Miracle Grow contains elements that make the soil dry and it has a lot of salt in it that lowers the pH of the soil. That is why the Miracle Grow should not be used for the Pachysandra plants. Only use the fertilizers that make the soil more acidic.