pachysandra bed looks bad this October

Asked October 14, 2019, 11:48 AM EDT

My large established bed of pachysandra seemed fine this summer. Early October I raked the leaves off and noticed that the pachy seemed wilted and weak like it does in the middle of winter. I thought this may be due to the prolonged dry conditions we had in Maryland. The pachy is looking worse this week. Should I be worried? What can I do? I have attached a pic of the bad section, a close up of the bad, and a pic of the better section. Thanks for your help!

Howard County Maryland

3 Responses

Your Japanese pachysandra is wilted for our severe drought. The minimal rainfall expected this week will not begin to compensate for the deficit.

The weakened condition of the pachysandra has probably contributed to what is now a massive infection of volutella, a fungal disease.

We'd recommend that you water all your healthy pachysandra immediately before it becomes infected. Do not allow it to go into the winter in dry soil.

Here is our page on volutella canker in pachysandra and how to treat it:
You can do the cutting back and cleaning out now. You can also spray with a cooper fungicide next spring before new growth starts. Water the roots now.

Japanese pachysandra is now considered a non-native invasive plant, more of a problem where it can get into natural or park areas and take over. If you have to replace a bed of pachysandra, we'd recommend planting natives if possible.


Hi Ellen,

Thank you for the quick response.

1. Should I also water the unhealthy-looking pachy to keep the roots hydrated?
2. The instructions on the fungicide do not indicate the intervals of application in the spring. Is it a one-time application?
3. For future reference, given this past summer drought, how often should I have been watering the pachy?

Thanks again!

1. You need to remove all the unhealthy foliage before you water.

2. Follow label directions for the disease. In general, an application may be every 7-10 days through the spring when it is wet and susceptible.

3. There are no easy answers and you will have to prioritize your plants and water what is important to you. A sandy soil dries out quickly and a clay soil holds more moisture. When the leaves hang down and no rain is predicted, it is advisable to provide prolonged, deep watering to keep the leaves rigid. Check the soil moisture of established plants about every 10 days and water if need be.
Here is information on drought and watering guidelines