Last Updated on March 8, 2022
Pachysandra Terminalis, commonly known as either Pachysandra or Japanese Spurge, is a low-growing plant that develops on thick stems to a height of about 6″ to 10″ depending on the shade exposure.
The plant typically forms a dense, dark green mat of leaves, making it a great choice for an under-trees plant. They can also be planted on slopes and banks, between tall buildings, next to walls, and as fillers between taller trees. This plant thrives in areas where plant growth is absent.
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What Is Pachysandra Terminalis?
Pachysandra Terminalis is a low shrubby plant that belongs to the boxwood family. The plant is popular in its use for covering the ground in shady areas.
Its leaves are dark green, and in spring, small white flowers grow with them. The plants are also drought-tolerant, and they can grow up to a height of one foot and a width of two feet. Usually, they are evergreen perennials. However, in hardiness zones, some of the leaves can be deciduous.
There are majorly two types of pachysandra, namely: Japanese pachysandra and Allegheny pachysandra. The origin of Japanese pachysandra can be traced to China and Japan, while Allegheny pachysandra originates from the United States.
Types of Pachysandra Terminalis
The Japanese and Allegheny variations of pachysandra are the most common types of the plant. However, there are some other cultivars within the same category.
Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis): This type grows into dark green and glossy leaves, which can grow up to about 12″ in height. The Japanese spurge is a more rigid form of spurge plants.
Green carpet (Pachysandra terminalis): This one is quite shorter and a thicker version of Japanese spurge, and it grows to about eight inches maximum height.
Silver edge (Pachysandra terminalis): One of the Japanese spurge variations with a white lining along with the variegated green leaf. It is a slow-growing pachysandra species, and it grows slower than the standard pachysandra.
Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens): Not as stiff as Japanese pachysandra, it contains clusters of white scented flowers. Some species of Allegheny leaves have hints of purple and a less shiny look.
Benefits of Pachysandra Terminalis
Pachysandra plants can be beneficial to your yard and garden. Here are some of its common uses:
Pest-resistant ground cover: One of the most common uses of pachysandra is an effective protection against pests. The plant rarely harbors ticks. This makes it a great choice for ground cover.
Decorative border: Pachysandra is also a beautiful plant that serves as a great decoration element in your yard. However, care must be taken to ensure that they are not planted around walkways or other areas with heavy foot traffic.
Erosion control: Pachysandras typically grow horizontally through underground channels and non-climbing plants. The system of underground roots helps the plant make up colonies, making them an effective solution for soil erosion.
When to Plant Pachysandra Terminalis
The perfect time for planting pachysandra is early in the spring or fall. The plant is at its best when in full shade, away from sunlight.
How to Plant Pachysandra Terminalis
Cultivating Pachysandra typically involves the use of clonal species, so seeds are not necessarily required for planting. The plant propagation is done through cuttings of the bare-root stem.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to grow pachysandra from cuttings.
Choosing your planting area: Pachysandra thrives in shady areas. So it is important to choose a spot away from direct sunlight that can harm the leaves. Pachysandra can also be planted in areas of partial shade. However, ensure that you locate a planting spot under a gathering of trees to provide as much shade.
Get your soil ready: The perfect soil for growing pachysandra is slightly acidic. You can adjust the pH of your soil, so it falls within the 5.5 to 5.6 mark. The plant can thrive in almost any soil type, as long as the soil is well-draining.
Plant your cuttings: To avoid damage by the sun, it is best to plant your pachysandra on a day when there’s an overcast. Dig holes that are about four or five inches deep and plant the cuttings in them. Since pachysandra spreads horizontally, there should be at least a 12 inches distance between the holes.
How to Care For Pachysandra
Pachysandra is easy to grow, and it is a low-maintenance plant that does not require too much from you.
Here are some pointers to help you care for your spurge plant.
Check the plant for pest and disease: Typically, pachysandra is resistant to most plant diseases and pests, though leaf blight may affect the plant. Volutella blight, commonly known as leaf blight, endangers the foliage and stems of the pachysandra plant.
Scales, which are also aphid-like bugs, can be treated using insecticides and pesticides.
Fertilize your ground cover: You don’t have to spend so much time and resources caring for your pachysandra, but you can keep the nutrients in the soil balanced by applying an organic fertilizer once every year. Pachysandra ground cover does well when you apply organic fertilizers at the appropriate time.
The fertilization should be done at the soil surface or if you apply overhead, ensure to give the plant a rinse. If you need to amend a larger area before transplanting, use 1 to 2 pounds of organic fertilizer for every 100 Square feet.
Prune: Before the new growing season begins, it is best to cut back your pachysandra using a pair of clean shears. For a more dense growth and to improve air circulation, you can snip the edges as well.
However, considering that the plant is a slow-growing perennial and has a non-invasive nature, you may prune it only when you feel it is getting too leafy for its space. You can also trim the plant for aesthetics.
Mulch: To help the plant maintain moist soil and to shield off weeds, you can apply organic matter around the root of the plant.
Light: As stated earlier, Japanese spurge thrives excellently in shaded areas. Some ground covers do not grow in shades, and some die due to insufficient access to light. However, in the case of pachysandra, the plant can turn yellow if exposed to too much sunlight.
Water: Pachysandra terminalis ground cover does not demand too much watering. It is important to water the plant to ensure that the soil remains moist but ensures proper drainage. Stagnant water will expose the stem and roots of the plant to dotting and fungal attacks.
It is also advised to avoid watering pachysandra overhead as it can pose a threat to the plant.
Soil: Typical of most plants, a rich, balanced, and draining soil is required. If needed, you can adjust your soil to improve its nutrients or reduce the clay content. To do this, you can add some compost to your soil to improve it.
Propagation: Propagation of pachysandra terminalis is quite easy. You can do that by cutting roots and transplanting clumps. You can also help newer sets germinate by getting seedlings from older plants and cultivating them in the potting soil.
Problems of Growing Pachysandra Terminalis
Growing pachysandra, you may not have problems with pests or other serious plant diseases. It is a great ground cover for deer, considering that they like to munch on it.
We have outlined a few things to look out for when growing spurge:
Diseases and other growth problems: Pachysandra is an easy plant to propagate. However, if you don’t water it consistently or choose the wrong soil, you may face certain difficulties. If the soil holds too much water or over-water the plant, the stem and root may begin to rot.
Also, planting your Japanese spurge in direct sunlight will cause discoloration to the leaves by making them appear yellowish. Leaf blight can also become complicated, and an organic fungicide application would be needed to eliminate it.
Pests: Though the plant is susceptible to only a few pests, it is imperative to look out for various insects and mites in your pachysandra plants. If you notice any pest, ensure to use an organic insecticide immediately.