Puzzling Pachysandra Problems

stacey tips art 1Every year at Van Wilgen’s customers bring me to plant samples in little, plastic baggies. When I see those plastic baggies, I run and hide in the back room. I’m just teasing. I am always curious to see what is lurking inside. Many of those baggies contain some kind of insect, weed, or disease. How come nobody brings me chocolate chip cookies or bouquets of flowers?! Teasing again.

This year, most of the baggies contain very unhappy pachysandra samples. What happened to our poor pachysandra over the winter? The winter seemed mild enough but our pachysandra is coming out of it looking pale, thin, and spotty. What is going on? There are a few culprits that could be adversely affecting your poor pachysandra.


  • Yellowing, especially if in the full sun
  • Brown scorching on the edges of the leaves, making them appear papery & torn
  • Lack of vigor


  • Dark brown & light tan concentric rings on the leaves with a dark brown margin
  • Entire leaf may turn brown
  • Brown cankers can develop on the stems as the disease progresses
  • Leaf loss
  • Laying down of plants
  • Thinning of plants
  • Dying off in circular patterns


  • Oblong, white, or brown flecks on the stems
  • Mottled yellowish & green top leaves
  • Loss of leaves if the scale is severe
  • Plant die-off


Use Bonide’s Horticultural Oil Spray in the spring, summer & fall. This will help suffocate any scale insects on your pachysandra. Combine with Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care by Bayer every 6 weeks throughout the growing season.


  • Chlorotic/pale leaves
  • Stippled/dotted leaves
  • Very light cob webbing on undersides of leaves
  • Leaf loss is spider mites are severe


Use Bonide’s Horticultural Oil Spray on an as need basis at 1-week intervals between sprays.

There are many reasons your pachysandra may not be looking so hot this season but let’s focus on VOLUTELLA BLIGHT. This has been a very troublesome disease this spring for our poor pachysandra beds. Many customers have brought in baggies full of sad pachysandra infected with the Volutella fungus. There are some definite things you can do to improve the health and look of your pachysandra.


  • Rake out all leaf and plant debris that has built up in your pachysandra beds. Improving air circulation & reducing moisture is key to reducing disease activity.
  • If you would like to replant in that area, remove all pachysandra manually or apply Glyphosate to kill plants down to the root system.
  • If replanting in the pachysandra bed, choose a different plant that is not vulnerable to Volutella Blight.
  • If you would like to revitalize affected pachysandra, cut all pachysandra down to 1 inch tall.
  • Fertilize pachysandra with Holly-Tone using 15 cups per 10’ X 10’ area.
  • Water in the Holly-Tone.
  • Apply Daconil Fungicide beginning at spring bud break. You will need 3 applications at 10-day intervals.
  • The organic fungicide of choice is Serenade. Apply 3 X’s, beginning at spring bud break, at 1-week intervals.
  • Keep pachysandra beds cleaned out of leaf debris always.
  • When watering pachysandra, avoid overhead irrigation. Soaker hoses work best.
  • Keep your fingers crossed and talk sweetly to your pachysandra to encourage growth.
  • One extra trick to improve ailing pachysandra is Iron-Tone. Iron adds a quick green-up, helping to restore pachysandra’s beauty.

This is a very puzzling pachysandra problem (say that 10 X’s fast) we are having this year. There are steps you can take to greatly improve the health of this struggling ground cover. Keep bringing your little baggies of goodies to me and we will do our best to find a solution to the problem lurking inside.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!