Common name/s ?

Japanese spurge and pachysandra.

Skill rating



Japan and China.

Type of plant ?

Evergreen, perennial sub-shrub.

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 20cm height and 50cm spread.

Growth rate ?

Slow, will take 5 to 10 years to reach its full size.

Shape it grows into

Creeping, mat forming.

Season/s of interest

Year round foliage with small flowers in spring.

Where to grow it

Happy in any sun/shade conditions.
Prefers well drained to moist soil.

Happy in any soil type and pH. Will tolerate any aspect (including deep shade) and both exposed and sheltered sites, although it prefers not to be disturbed too much (eg frequently trampled on!).

Pachysandra terminalis


The evergreen foliage grows in rosettes and is mid to dark green with jagged margins around the tip of each leaf. In spring, spikes of small, white, monoecious flowers appear from deep pink buds.

What to use it for

A fantastic plant for ground cover in just about any situation, but particularly useful under trees and other shady spots. Would suit a cottage garden design or a more modern style garden. Useful for growing on slopes and will withstand coastal conditions. As it is relatively slow growing, and suppresses weeds well, it is perfect for a low maintenance garden.

How to look after it

A low maintenance plant. May require watering in dry spells, particularly if it’s growing in full sun, as it doesn’t tolerate drought.

How to prune it

Pruning generally isn’t necessary for this plant, however if you do want to remove damaged sections or tidy it up you can do so in early summer, after it has flowered. If you want to limit its spread you will need to dig up the excess growth to remove the underground rhizomes, rather than just cutting it back.

How to propagate it

Divide plants in spring or take semi-ripe stem cuttings in summer or autumn.

Common problems

Pachysandra terminalis is generally a problem free plant. However, it’s possible that it may suffer from nutrient deficiencies (particularly if it’s grown in very alkaline soil) or be afflicted by slugs, two spotted spider mites, aphids, nematodes, Euonymus scale, root rot, leaf spots or volutella blight.

Other useful information

The genus name ‘Pachysandra‘ derives from the Greek for ‘thick’ and ‘male’, relating to the prominent stamens of the male flowers. The species name ‘terminalis‘ refers to the location of the male flowers at the end of the flower spikes.