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Tips on Planting Pachysandra

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017

Pachysandra, known also as Japanese pachysandra or spurge, is an evergreen ground cover with a low-growing but dense carpet habit. It belongs to the boxwood family. It flowers and fruits each year but is grown primarily for its glossy green leaves and unfinicky cultivation requirements.

Pachysandra can reach up to roughly 10 inches in height and is most commonly grown in wide beds, on slopes and hillsides and as under planting for trees with deep roots. Pachysandra will choke out any weeds and most invasive plants on soil and is often employed as a tool to fight soil erosion.

Provide Shade

Plant pachysandra in deep shade to lightly-filtered shade for best performance. A location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade in cooler climates will also work. Pachysandra will thrive in moist woodland garden conditions but will also grow in dry shade with plentiful irrigation. It does not perform well in full sun exposures and will be difficult to keep evenly green without burn spots and browning occurring in most climates.

Planting Intervals

Space pachysandra plants at least 8 inches apart in a bed or planting area when creating a mass carpet effect. Closer planting will likely result in overcrowding that will require thinning within a few years. It grows quickly enough that wider spacing will give a good coverage with less maintenance required over time. You can also plant pachysandra as a stand-alone specimen in the shade garden and maintain its desired size with annual or as-needed pruning.

Maintain Moist Soil

Water your pachysandra until drenched at planting time and generously throughout the year thereafter, never allowing the soil to dry out. This is a plant where you err on the side of more water, not less, as it will readily tolerate wet feet. Once the evergreen foliage desiccates or turns brown, it cannot be restored to its lush green color--so avoid drought, to preserve the appearance of the plant and limit the need for pruning.

In most climates a deep-soaking session every 7 to 10 days will suffice. Hot and arid climates or times of year may necessitate more water to keep the soil constantly moist.