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Does Japanese Spurge Take Full Sun?

Does Japanese Spurge Take Full Sun?

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Willie Moore
Latest posts by Willie Moore (see all)

Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra) creates an excellent ground cover since it spreads over underground runners, creating a dense mat. As a plant in the boxwood family, sun is an essential consideration when planting the Japanese Spurge for its survival (source). Growing this plant in unfavorable sunlight conditions is a sure way to kill it.

Japanese Spurge doesn’t tolerate full sun. This plant’s ideal condition is from partial to full shade to protect its foliage. The plant’s foliage starts bleaching and turning yellow when exposed to the full sun.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss Japanese Spurge sunlight requirements and how to know when the plant is receiving excessive sun. I’ll also cover how to plant and care for this plant, including its best-growing conditions. Let’s get started!

Japanese Spurge Sunlight Requirements

Sunlight is crucial for all plants; it aids in photosynthesis to keep plants healthy (source). However, plants have different sunlight requirements. While some survive in full sun, others plants do best in partial shade. Japanese Spurge belongs to the latter category of plants that prefer partial to full shade.

Pachysandra can tolerate some sunlight daily. However, the light should not be prolonged. Prolonged sunlight exposure exposes this plant to scalding, which dries out the foliage, making it yellow (source). Therefore, you should provide your Japanese Spurge with partial shade if you want it to remain healthy. 

How To Know When Your Japanese Spurge Receives Excessive Sun

It’s easier to take the necessary action when you know what to look for in a Pachysandra that’s receiving excessive sunlight.

The best way to identify the excessive sun exposure in this plant is by looking for sun scalding. Although scalding can result from infection, it’s mainly due to overexposure to the sun in Japanese Spurge.

A sure way to confirm that your plant is affected by the sun is by looking at the differences between the leaves exposed to the sun and those in the shade. The leaves in the sun will have a light-green to yellow color, while the ones in the shade will be dark green.

If you notice these symptoms in your plant, take action by shading it with burlap or any other material that will filter sunlight. Also, ensure some ventilation to prevent the plant from overheating.

You can also move the plant to a shadier location, especially if it’s in a pot, since pots dry out quickly. Watering the plant regularly will also help it recover from sun scalding.

How To Plant Japanese Spurge

The success of your Japanese Spurge starts from its planting stage. Apart from sun exposure, the planting conditions, soil, and water plays a crucial role in the survival of these plants. Therefore, you must know the optimum survival conditions before embarking on planting.

Japanese Spurge grows well in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9 (source). These are colder regions with temperatures as low as -40°F (-40°C).

Planting Pachysandra

The Japanese Spurge is mostly planted through bare-root stem cuttings. This is a planting system whereby the plant is grown from stem cuttings without the need for seeds (source). The cuttings may be placed in a rooting hormone to help them grow faster.

Alternatively, you can propagate this plant through division, which involves dividing an already established plant into several parts and replanting them. This method is best suited for plants that are at least three years old.

Here are some key considerations when dividing and replanting:

  • Ensure each division has at least three stems to survive (source).
  • Each section should have a healthy supply of roots.
  • Replant the divisions as soon as possible to avoid drying out the roots.
  • Water each area generously after planting.
  • Replant the sections in rich, moist soil.

Once you have the stem cuttings ready, proceed with the following planting procedure:

Select the Location

You must choose a shady area with well-drained soil. However, these plants can also survive in clayey soils since they need sufficient water. Clay soil has a high water-holding capacity due to its large surface area (source).

The soil should also be slightly acidic.

Create Planting Holes

Use a shovel to create holes that are big enough to accommodate all the roots. The holes should be at least four inches (0.10 meters) deep and six inches (0.15 meters) wide.

The spacing between the holes should be at least 12 inches (0.3 meters) to accommodate the plants as they start spreading. These plants spread horizontally.

Although a small planting hole may seem right, it significantly reduces the chances of survival, especially when growing in clay soil. This is because water doesn’t drain well in small holes, so the roots may rot.

Place the Plant in the Hole

Carefully place the plant in the hole, ensuring that all the roots are comfortably accommodated. You can use your hands to ensure the roots and stems are well accommodated. Exposing the roots can make the plant fail to germinate and grow.

Fill In the Planting Hole

Use the shovel to fill the planting hole with soil, ensuring there are no air pockets. Tamp down the soil gently using your hands or feet to ensure it’s firm enough.

Leaving air pockets in the soil can make the plant unstable, and it may topple over when it grows big.

Water the Plant Generously

Immediately after planting, water the plant generously to help it settle in the new environment. Ensure the water reaches the roots to saturate them thoroughly.

As you progress, you’ll keep reducing the amount of water gradually. The root system can access more water in the soil as it starts growing and spreading.


After watering, you should spread a two-inch (0.05-meter) mulch around the plant. The mulch will help retain moisture in the soil and keep the roots cool.

For mulching, you can use organic materials such as wood chips, pine needles, or bark. Avoid heavy materials such as stones as they can break the brittle stems.


You should also weed the area around the plant to prevent competition for water and nutrients. The best time to weed is when the soil is moist, such as early morning or after irrigation at night.

It’s easier to pull out weeds when the soil is moist.

Groundcover Pachysandra Terminalis Japanese Spurge (link to Amazon) is an excellent ground cover when grown in the right conditions. When provided with its optimum growing and survival conditions, the plant blooms in no time, giving your backyard an aesthetically appealing dark green appearance.

Final Thoughts

Planting your Japanese Spurge in the full sun exposes it to sunburns and scalding. The burns bleach the leaves, making them yellow instead of dark green. Your plant may eventually die if you don’t take immediate action to provide shade.

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