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Pachysandra Turning Yellow and Dying? Here’s Why

Pachysandra Turning Yellow and Dying? Here’s Why

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Willie Moore
Latest posts by Willie Moore (see all)

Pachysandra is a groundcover plant that blooms throughout the year. It is excellent for covering areas where planting isn’t easy, such as under the shade of trees. But what happens when the hardy perennial starts to turn yellow and die?

Pachysandra turns yellow and dies due to excessive sunlight, chlorosis, waterlogging, and pest infestation. Soil with insufficient nutrients also causes the leaves to turn yellow and die. You can keep your pachysandra healthy by preventing pest infestation and taking good care of it.  

Most of these problems have a solution. But if the leaves die and fall, you may have to replant pachysandra in your garden. This article lists why your pachysandra is turning yellow and dying and how to prevent it.

1. Too Much Sunlight

Light is good for plants, but some, like pachysandra, can’t take too much of it and will struggle in direct sunlight. The intensity of light bleaches the leaves, turning them yellow. The leaves will eventually die if you they are exposed to the sun for too long. 

Interestingly, pachysandra thrives much more in the summer sun than in Winter. 

How To Fix

The solution is very simple. Pachysandra prefers partial or full shade (source). That is why they grow in places where other plants can’t. The plant can grow as tall as ten inches (25.4 cm) when the light is right. 

So, to prevent the yellowing of leaves, you must plant pachysandra in partial shade, such as under a tree. The shade provided by the tree ensures the plant gets the right amount of sunlight. 

The best time to plant Pachysandra is the early Spring when the sun is not scorching, and the trees provide ample shade. Learn more about the ideal sunlight requirements for pachysandras and how to get them spreading.

2. Waterlogging 

Waterlogging means the soil can’t drain water quickly enough (or at all) and is one of the primary reasons plants’ leaves turn yellow and die. 

Waterlogged soil can lead to root rot. Any damage to the roots affects the leaves and the rest of the plant. So, root rot can deprive the leaves of their color, killing them eventually.

How To Fix 

You can use several strategies to fix the issue of waterlogging, as explained below: 

  • Planting pachysandra or other groundcover plants. They can take excess water and help the soil drain faster. 
  • Improve the soil’s organic matter. It improves water drainage by bonding with soil and creating more water flow space (source). 

3. Spider Mite Infestation

Spider mites are tiny insects you can’t spot with the naked eye. An infestation in your garden can turn pachysandra leaves yellow and dry. The pests leave webbing between leaves, depriving them of chlorophyll, eventually leading to foliage discoloration. 

The discoloration occurs due to toxins that the pests leave in the veins of the leaves. It usually starts with small white spots and eventually turns the entire leaf yellow. Once the leaves lose their chlorophyll, they begin to die. 

How To Fix

You can spray your pachysandra with water twice a week. Spraying may work if the infestation is in its early stages. 

Alternatively, you can use soap water if the damage is considerable and the infestation is stubborn. An insecticidal soap spray can work too. But dilute the liquid to avoid overwhelming your plant. I would recommend testing this on a single area first to make sure you don’t have too much soap mixed in.  

4. Euonymus Scale

Euonymus scale infestation in pachysandra turns its leaves yellow. These are tiny white pests that are hard to manage. They have a protective covering that shields them from many predators, giving them a longer life. 

The female scales are brown, whereas the males are white. When the infestation grows, you can spot the males due to their white color. The pests feed on plant juices, giving the leaves a dehydrated look. 

Euonymus scale infestation begins with white and yellow spots on Pachysandra foliage. As the pests continue to feed on the plant, the leaves can turn completely yellow and may fall off the plant. The plant can die if the infection is left untreated. 

The females spend the winter as mated pests and lay eggs in spring. The eggs, in turn, hatch into crawlers that start to feed on the plant – each season sees two generations of crawlers.

The first generation of crawlers appears between April and May. They become adults and produce the second generation between August and September. 

How To Fix

There are several ways to treat the infestation.

  • Prune the foliage with infestation. It is easier to prune the affected section during the early stages of the infection.
  • Spray the plant with dormant oil. You can mix the dormant oil with water or use it without it. The key is to spray the plants in winter before the females can lay eggs. The oil is most effective when the temperature remains above freezing for a full day. You must not use dormant oil on blooming pachysandra.
  • Keep your pachysandra healthy. Euonymus scales attack unhealthy plants first. So, it is important to look after the plant. You must ensure the soil is rich in nutrients, drains well, and has enough organic matter. A good watering cycle throughout the year is also important. 
  • Spray the plant with synthetic insecticides. These sprays can target the plants you want without spreading the residue to nearby plants. It is advisable to spray once in April during the growing season and then in fall the following year. However, insecticides may not be effective once the pests grow their waxy shield around themselves. 
  • Spray with insecticidal soap. These soap sprays suffocate pests by disrupting their cellular membranes. They may even remove the waxy coating of the insects.  

Before buying any insecticides, you must ensure they are legal for use in your state.


Pachysandras are beautiful groundcover evergreen plants that thrive the most under trees. However, the foliage can turn yellow and die if the plant isn’t exposed to suitable growing conditions. 

Although hardy, pest infestations can attack your pachysandra and turn the leaves yellow, eventually killing them.

You must take good care of pachysandra to keep the pests away. Moreover, you must ensure they receive an appropriate amount of sunlight and water. You can also treat the plant after an infestation. But you may have to remove the affected plant if the damage is irreparable.

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