I read somewhere that pachysandra is the most popular groundcover in the United States. That’s some reputation! And though a few gardening friends of mine hate the plant – probably because it is frequently seen – they can’t argue against the fact that it is a great problem solver. Pachysandra will grow in part sun or deep shade, in moist or dry soil conditions, and even in the dense shade and terribly thin soil conditions beneath a Norway maple, where little else will grow. Once filled in, which it does quickly, it practically defies weeds.
Tree leaves falling on pachysandra don’t need raking unless they form a layer heavy enough to smother the plants, because during winter pachysandra foliage curls up when the weather is really cold and uncurls when it’s warmer. This movement serves to sift the fallen leaves to the ground beneath the groundcover, where they can decompose. A native of Japan, pachysandra terminalis has glossy, dark green, evergreen leaves with jagged edges arranged in whorls around the stem. A few uncommon cultivars and it’s American cousin, Alleghany pachysandra, might bequile even those who detest the plant. Pachysandra procumbens, our native pachysandra, is not as vigorous, clump forming rather than spreading, a bit taller, and deciduous in our area. ‘Silver Edge’ is an evergreen, variegated form with dark green leaves edged in white and is a bit slower spreading than terminalis. ‘Green Sheen’ is an evergreen variety which has smaller leaves that are extremely glossy, giving them an almost polished look; this variety is also slower spreading. ‘Kingswood’ is another evergreen variety with beautiful dark green, deeply cut, lacy foliate. All varieties are ideal for the types of conditions listed above.
Tips for Planting Pachysandra
Remove existing sod, grass, weeds, etc.
Rototil or spade area to a depth of 8”.
Add Canadian Peat Moss 2” thick over entire area (1 cu. ft. of peat will cover 12 sq. ft. of ground area at 2” thick.
Add Perlite 1” thick over entire area (1 cu. ft. Perlite covers 12 sq. ft. at 1” thick).
Rototill or spade into soil until uniformly mixed.
Rake area until it’s even as possible.
Position plants to desired coverage and plant. (See spacing and coverage guide).
Plant potted plants with 1/2” of soil level above ground level and rooted cuttings so that top roots are ground level to allow for mulching.
We suggest using a pre-emergent annual weed and grass control.
Mulch with 1 1/2” of Right Dress, hardwood bark, or other suitable mulch.
Keep area moist during the first growing season, to fully establish plants before winter.
Feed with Dragon Plant Starter during the first growing season.
Feed established plantings with an appropriate dry granular fertilizer such as Holly Tone, or liquid ‘touch up’ fertilizer such as Miracid.
Coverage and Spacing Guide
Plant, Plants Per Spacing Square Foot
12” on center 1 plant per sq. ft.
8” on center 2 plants per sq. ft.
6” on center 4 plants per sq. ft.