Pachysandra needs regular watering--an inch of water a week from rain or from a watering can, soaker hose, or drip irrigation until it becomes established. Otherwise water it only during droughts and in late fall before the ground freezes. At these times, water deeply once a week.
If you have good soil with lots of organic matter added each year and if you mulch your newly planted pachysandra beds, they will need watering only when it has not rained for a week or two. If you have poor soil with little organic content or if you choose not to use mulch, then you may have to water the plants every sunny day, at least until they are well rooted. This is especially true for pachysandra growing in containers.
For more information see file on Choosing Watering Equipment.
Fertilize newly planted pachysandra at planting time or in the spring by sprinkling some fertilizer on the soil around each plant if you have not already mixed it into the soil when preparing the planting bed. Avoid getting it on the leaves.
Use a handful of fertilizer for every 4 square feet or so of pachysandra bed. If your soil contains lots of organic matter, a single application of slow-acting fertilizer will give the plants a continuous supply of nutrients through the season. If your garden soil is not terrific then consider spraying the plant foliage with some liquid fertilizer about 3 weeks after you‘ve planted them.
For more information see file on Choosing Fertilizer.
Spread a 2 to 4-inch layer of an attractive organic material like wood chips, chopped leaves, shredded bark or dried grass clippings, alone or combined with peat moss on the soil around newly planted pachysandra plants to control weeds until transplants grow together to form a groundcover carpet. This mulch also reduces soil moisture loss through evaporation, and cools the soil. It gradually decomposes and adds organic matter to the soil by means of weather and earthworm activity. This adds vital nutrients and improves its structure and drainage. After several years, the fall leaves that settle in between the established plants will provide sufficient mulch.
If some hard-to-control perennial weeds such as bindweed or thistle pop up later on, either pick them by hand, or use a broadleaf weed herbicide product containing 2, 4D herbicide. To avoid killing the pachysandra and wipe the leaves of the weeds with a cloth soaked in the herbicide product. Take care to keep the cloth from contacting the pachysandra and wear waterproof gloves to protect your bare skin.
For more information see file on Using Mulch.
Pachysandra is virtually care free. However, because it spreads, you may occasionally have to trim it back from the edges of driveways, paths and steps. This gives the yard a neat appearance.
A long established bed often benefits from periodic shearing, either with hand hedge clippers, hand grass shears, or a power lawn mower at its highest blade setting to avoid cutting the plants to the ground. This encourages sparsely growing plants to fill in and revitalizes tired foliage. If unrestrained, pachysandra tends to gradually take over. Allegheny spurge is less aggressive. It may be necessary every few years to dig up plants that grow out of bounds, but you can put these bonus plants to work elsewhere in the yard.
For more information see file on Choosing Pruning Tools.
Limit oversized pachysandra clumps by digging up clumps in early spring or fall. Slice under the clump through the root mass about 2 to 3 inches deep in the soil with a sharp shovel or spade or knife. Then roll up the densely matted plants like a rug. Trim off any dead or damaged growth and replant rooted sections of the original clumps wherever they are needed. Water well for 2 weeks.
Another way to make more pachysandra plants is to cut some 3 to 6 inch long sturdy stems with at least 2 leaves on them and put them in water or in a rooting medium such as damp builder’s sand, perlite or vermiculite. To ensure best root development in a medium, dip the cut ends in rooting hormone first. In shallow pan of damp medium make a hole with a pencil tip for each cutting, insert the powdered stem end, and then gently firm the medium around it. Space cuttings about 2 inches apart. Cover the container and cuttings with clear plastic to conserve moisture and put it in bright, but not direct, sun. The cuttings will develop new roots in about 60 days and then plant them in the prepared soil bed in your yard and water as described earlier.