Volutella Dieback of Pachysandra

Asked April 2, 2020, 9:25 AM EDT

I've read your information sheet and it appears I have the volutella problem with my pachysandra as shown in the attached photos. The 30'x 25' bed has been fine for the last 25 years but now the problem is quite widespread in the bed with most plants affected. It probably started last year. The sheet says something about thinning with a lawn mower. Can you tell me more about doing this since it seems like an odd thing to do? Is there any hope for my bed? Do you recommend a fungicide?Thank you for your help.

Howard County Maryland

3 Responses

That is a pretty advanced case of this disease on your planting bed, but it is worth a try to bring it back.
What you want to do is set your lawn mower on it's lowest setting, and mow the whole area. Then rake out and bag up the clippings and diseased portions of the plants. It looks like there is still green plant material and runners/roots and spring is the time of regrowth from these plant parts. Give it some time to mend.

We don't recommend fungicides as much as managing plants in ways that help air flow improvement for drying (thinning) or anything that helps keep leaves from holding water for long periods of time, which encourages disease.

Be sure to water the bed in times of drought.

If it doesn't work out, we would suggest a replacement planting of a mix of natives like ferns, comfrey, etc. More ideas on that here:


I followed your advice and things turned out beautifully as you can see in the "after" pictures. I was quite surprised, thanks very much.

Your pachysandra looks wonderful. So glad that worked out for you. Moving forward, in the fall, rake up as many fallen leaves and plant debris in the pachysandra to help avoid this problem again. When the bed gets really thick again mowing it with the lawnmower to thin it out is probably a good idea. As Christine mentioned, wetness promotes disease.