Japanese spurge, Pachysandra terminalis, is a perennial plant that makes an outstanding evergreen ground cover plant for shady areas of your landscape.
Pachysandra terminalis, pachysandra, grows in Zones 4-8 and has a spreading form with medium textured foliage. Spurge will grow 8”h x 8”w.
Japanese spurge prefers full or partial shade and fertile to moderately fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. Plants have evergreen whorls of toothed, glossy dark green leaves. Spikes of tiny white flowers that appear in late spring. Plants spread quickly and will coexist with tree roots.
Landscape Uses: Place Japanese spurge in prepared beds at the feet of trees, in the woody or herbaceous shade border, or in the woodland garden. Plant along shady walkways, or down steeped terraces where it is hard to mow. It will do well in most types of shaded areas.
Companion Plants: Good companions in a ground cover bed include ‘Pumila’ Chinese astilbe, bleeding heart, and ‘Elegans’ Siebold hosta. You could add in some annual shade plants to add some additional color to an area.
Care of Japanese Spurge
Plant 12-24” apart in late spring or fall. The closer you plant them to each other the faster they will cover your ground area. A slow-release granular plant food can be added at the time of planting or you can begin using water-soluble plant food 3 weeks after planting, especially if plants will be competing with tree or shrub roots. Water them deeply when the soil is dry. You may also apply 3” of vegetative mulch in summer and winter to reduce weed seed germination, retain soil moisture, and keep the soil temperatures stable.
Propagation: Divide in spring by digging around the rhizomes and lift. Use basic division techniques.
Pest and Diseases: Leaf spot may be a disease problem at some point.
The cultivar ‘Green Carpet” is compact, ‘Silver Edge” has light green leaves rimmed in silver-white, and ‘Variagata’ has white variegated leaves and grows rather slowly.