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Pachysandra Maintenance

By Aileen Clarkson

Pachysandra, also known as Japanese spurge, is the ultimate low-maintenance ground cover. It thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 7. Pachysandra prefers part shade, but will tolerate sun. It spreads by underground rhizomes.

Water and Mulch

Recently planted pachysandra needs to be watered deeply once a week until it becomes established. Check that the water has penetrated the first few inches of soil. After that, you need water it only during a drought (water deeply once a week) and before the ground freezes in the fall. You'll know when pachysandra needs watering because the leaf tips will start to brown or the plant will wilt. If pachysandra is grown in a container, it will need more frequent watering.

A 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch will help control weeds and keep pachysandra from drying out too quickly. Use wood chips or shredded bark. As the pachysandra spreads and forms a thick ground cover, you'll need less mulch.


A general, all-purpose fertilizer such as Osmocote or Miracle-Gro can be applied in the spring. You can use slow-release or liquid 8-5-5 fertilizer. It is not vital to fertilize pachysandra, but the plants will appreciate a boost, particularly after a harsh winter.


Trim pachysandra when it grows over the edges of paths or steps. Consider shearing a sparse or overgrown patch in the spring to stimulate new growth. You can use hand clippers, shears or a weed-whacker set at a high level. If the plants start getting crowded, dig down 2 to 3 inches and find a clump with a good root mass. Replant in a new spot, watering well.


About the Author


Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years, earning three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer." Clarkson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Florida.