Pachysandra is a genus of five species of evergreen perennials or subshrubs. It belongs to the boxwood family known as Buxaceae. Some people know it as Pakasandra, but the real name is Pachysandra. The species are native to eastern Asia and southeast North America.
They can reach a height between 8 and 18 inches, with only weakly woody stems. The plant has alternate, leathery leaves with a coarsely toothed margin. The leaves grow up to 4 inches long.
Pachysandra plant can grow in deep shady area, making it quite popular as ground cover for shade gardens. There are a couple of different Pachysandra varieties. One of the most popular is P. terminalis, which is known as Japanese spurge.
Pachysandra species and varieties
Speaking of Pachysandra species, let’s talk about the most important varieties.
- Pachysandra axllaris originates from China
- Pachysandra terminalis, or Japanese spurge, is the Japanese Pachysandra. This herbaceous perennial shrub with glossy and dark green leaves is a more rigid and upright version
- Pachysandra procumbens, is the Allegheny spurge. It is less stiff than the Japanese version and contains fragrant white flower clusters. They grow on a fleshy stalk emerging low on the stem
- Pachysandra coriacea, sometimes referred to as Sarcococca coriacea, originates from India, Nepal, and Myanmar
- Green carpet, also Pachysandra terminalis, is a shorter, and more compact version of the Japanese spurge
- Silver edge, Pachysandra terminalis, is another version of the Japanese Pachysandra that has variegated green foliage lined with white edges. It is a slow-growing and shorter species
Get to know the plant
Pachysandra terminalis, the most common version, is the Japanese spurge. We said the plant belongs to the boxwood family. It is an evergreen perennial. The species are herbaceous in the sense that they lack woody stems. Yet, their foliage does not die back in winter. It merely gets a yellow color.
Now let’s talk about some Pachysandra traits. Japanese Pachysandra has an American relative, as we said before, known as Allegheny spurge. The original plant is 12 inches wide and 6 inches tall, producing white flowers in spring. But it is grown primarily for the dark-green and leathery leaves.
Sun and Soil needs
This foliage plant grows best in full shade and acidic soil enriched with composed. According to the USDA plant hardiness zone clarification, the plant grows best in zones 4 to 8.
Pachysandra needs adequate water to get established. The plant itself is tolerant of many challenges. Because of its relatively high tolerance, the plant can solve four common landscaping problems:
- Clay heavy soil
Because it is drought-tolerant, you do not have to worry much about watering established plants. Yet, it requires a bit of water until it is established. Because Pachysandra plant tolerates full shade and clayey soil, it gives you a ground-cover choice for areas where many plants would normally fail.
Care and uses in landscaping
There are things you need to know about this plant. For starters, patches of brown may appear in winter and cold climates. Similarly, if exposed to too much sunlight, the leaves may burn.
Speaking of other problems, the plant is susceptible to leaf blight, resulting from a fungal invasion. Because fungus loves moisture, make sure to not water the plants overhead.
Another maintenance requirement is to fallen leaves that may blank them in autumn. Good air circulation deters fungus, so thing out the Japanese Pachysandra. Trap moisture in the planting bed.
Pachysandra plants are effective ground covers for weed control, so they spread to form a dense mat. It then inhibits weed growth. This spreading action is accomplished via rhizomes. So, if you want to keep your plants confined to one area, gig up the spreading runners annually or surround your plants with a bamboo barrier.
Pachysandra is quite similar and often compared to another low ground cover for shade, Vinca minor. Vinca is a vine plant that stays shorter than the Japanese Pachysandra. Both of these are moderately invasive plants, and useful for deer control.
Uses of Pachysandra
We said before this plant can make a useful addition to your yard or garden. Here are some of the most common uses of Pachysandra plant.
- Deer-resistant ground cover – the plant is mostly used as an effective, pest-resistant ground cover. You will not find many ticks in Pachysandra
- Erosion control – the non-climbing and horizontally-spreading plant through underground rhizomes make it an effective plant for erosion control. The underground root system of Pachysandra helps the plant form colonies that are effective for controlling soil erosion
- Decorative border – the plant is great for a decorative border of your yard or for other landscaping projects. But do not plant it in an area with high foot traffic. Pachysandra also doesn’t tolerate vigorous raking
How to plant it?
We said before there are many Pachysandra varieties that you can choose from. The US Department of Agriculture recommends growing zones between 4 and 7.
The plant is easily transplanted from garden flats or divisions in the spring. Space them 6 to 12 inches apart to accommodate Pachysandra spread. The plant prefers soil that is moist and amended with rich organic matter.
Before you plant Pachysandra, make sure the planting area is clear from debris. Also, make sure the soil is loose. If you add new plants, soil should be 4 inches deep and 6 inches wide.
When you plant your new plant, water it thoroughly and provide 2 inches of mulch to help with water retention. Once your Pachysandra plant is established, you can lower the watering.
Pachysandra requires only minimal care. New plants can be pinched back for years to encourage business. Once established, it can handle a period of drought. Yet, young plants require adequate moisture.
When to plant it?
Speaking of time, it is best to plant Pachysandra in the early spring or early fall. The plant thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 7, depending on the variety. It can work in hardiness zone 3 to 9 as well.
The plant prefers full shade and deepens in color when it is out of the harsh sunlight.
Some extra care tips
As we said before, Pachysandra is a low-maintenance plant and easy to grow. Yet, you want some extra tips for care and maintenance
- Water regularly until the roots are established, but avoid overwatering. It can lead to root rot
- While it is largely resistant to most pests and diseases, it is susceptible to leaf blight. So check for pests and diseases
- Fertilize the ground cover annually and apply an organic fertilizer to keep the nutrients in the soil balanced
- Prune the shrubs with a pair of clean shears. Cut back the plant before the new growing season begins
- Mulch with the organic matter around the base of the plant. It helps in maintaining soil moist and provides ground cover for smoother weeds