Taxonomy of Japanese Pachysandra:
Plant taxonomy classifies Japanese pachysandra (also called "Japanese spurge") as Pachysandra terminalis.
Japanese pachysandra plants are evergreen perennials of the broadleaf variety. They are herbaceous in the sense that they lack woody stems, but their foliage doesn't die back in winter (it merely yellows a bit). In terms of usage, Pachysandra terminalis plants are classified as ground covers.
Characteristics of Japanese Pachysandra:
Wider than it is tall, this ground cover spreads via underground runners. It is commonly found standing at 6" tall with a spread twice that. Pachysandra terminalis produces white blooms in spring but is grown primarily for its foliage.
Sun and Soil Requirements for Pachysandra Terminalis:
Best grown in partial to full shade and in a well-drained, acidic soil rich in humus. The plant prefers medium moisture but will tolerate dry shade.
Planting Zones for Pachysandra Terminalis:
Pachysandra terminalis can be grown in zones 4-8.
Care for Pachysandra Terminalis:
Pachysandra terminalis should be provided with some shelter for winter in cooler climates, or patches of brown may mar its appearance. If you wish to keep it confined to one area, dig up trespassing runners annually. Pachysandra terminalis is susceptible to leaf blight, which results from a fungal invasion. Fungus loves moisture, so don't water overhead. Good air circulation also deters fungus, so thin out Pachysandra terminalis occasionally. Spring division is a good means of propagation.
Uses for Pachysandra Terminalis in Landscaping:
These plants are effective ground covers for weed control, as they spread to form a dense mat that inhibits weed growth. They are sometimes compared to another low ground cover for shade, Vinca minor. The latter is a vine and stays shorter than Pachysandra terminalis. Vinca minor also has the more attractive bloom of the two (a bluish flower). Both are moderately invasive plants, but both are also useful for deer control.
Plants Related to Pachysandra Terminalis:
Japanese pachysandra has an American counterpart, called "Allegheny spurge" (Pachysandra procumbens).