pacasandra ground cover not doing well

Asked April 8, 2020, 9:22 PM EDT

Hello, Thank you for the previous help you extended regarding "quack grass". It was helpful. My lovely pacasandra ground cover looks like ants may have tunneled under two areas of it and it is not looking lush and green and seems to be dying in places. How can I treat these mounds that the ants (I believe) have built under the roots of the plants? Thank you for your help. Should I feed the plants? Christine Morgan

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Hi - Is your pachysandra thinning out, similar to what's show in the attached photo?

We’ve been receiving many questions this spring about decline and dieback of pachysandra beds. We speculate that because of our rather mild winter that the fungus, Volutella pachysandrae, could have been active during the winter months which would cause increased damage to stems and leaves this spring.

The damage is worse in beds where fallen debris such as leaves and branches have fallen and compacted in moisture retaining layers over the pachysandra plants. New infections can continue through the season if rainfall is adequate. Management with fungicides sprays is rarely effective since it’s hard to get thorough coverage with the dense foliage and debris layers. Our recommendations are to do extensive thinning and rejuvenation of the beds by string trimming the plants down followed by use of leaf blowers to dislodge the accumulated debris to increase air circulation around the remaining healthy plants. The pachysandra will take time to fill back in and may require fertilization and weeding to return to its former density.

It is probably not ants that are the problem, but you are welcome to send us photos of the mounds and ants, if you wish, and we can take a look.