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In most cases, I've discovered the Asian counterpart of our native plants to be much showier, more robust and, in many instances, more floriferous than our native species. Take Claytonia for example. Our native Claytonia virginica and Claytonia caroliniana are very early, beautiful little plants. However, although their flowers are lovely, they're very small and the entire plant is extremely ephemeral. On the other hand, Claytonia Sibirica has thicker, more deeply veined foliage and it flowers for months.
One major exception to this rule is Pachysandra procumbens. It's an East Coast member of the Buxaceae (Boxwood) family and is commonly referred to as "Allegheny Spurge". This plant is superior to the more commonly used (Asian) Pachysandra terminalis in virtually every respect.
The Asian Pachysandra terminalis is a very aggressive, stoloniferous thug in the garden. And, although this can be a benefit if you want to fill in a very large area, super fast, its well behaved American cousin, P. procumbens, is a clump forming groundcover that fills in an area slowly, however much more elegantly.
Pachysandra procumbens is hardy in most areas of the US, probably into zone 4, maybe even 3. In zones 7-10 or during mild Winters elsewhere, it stays evergreen. In colder areas it will be a herbaceous perennial.
In the early Spring, P.p. shoots up very cool spikes of pink and white fragrant flowers that last for a week or two. Soon after the flowers have set seed, the first vegetative shoots poke their heads through the soil and their dark green leaves begin to unfold. In deep shade, the foliage remains a dark, luxurious, green all summer. The more sun that the plants get, the lighter their leaves are. I planted a row in full sun as an experiment to test the plant's extremes. The plants in the sun were healthy and productive but the leaves were paler in color, some with an almost chloritic appearance. This is definitely a dappled to deep shade plant!
In the late summer to early fall, Pachysandra procumbens reminds us of the approaching Autumnal Equinox by "opening its windows to let in more light". This effect takes its form as beautiful silvery mottling on the leaves that I can only compare to snowflakes in the respect that no two leaves are alike. Oh! The joy of jumping around on the ground like a frog from plant to plant, trying to select the most striking patterns. In the end, they're all brilliant and unique.
Pachysandra procumbens is a very easy, but slow plant to propagate. You can take stem/leaf cuttings in the early spring, but rhizome divisions are quicker and easier. On a mature rhizome, there many "joints". If you make a complete cut at each joint, leaving the plant above it with a few good roots intact, you will have several 2"-4" pieces that you can pot up or lay out in a flat and cover with about a 1/2" of soil. Root pieces taken in the early spring, while the plants are still dormant, will produce new plants ready for planting the same season.
All in all, it's difficult to find a better, all around, more useful, adaptable ground cover plant than Pachysandra procumbens.
I've been sharing my limited stock of Pachysandra procumbens as bareroot 5 year old plants for $7.50 ea plus shipping. Over the last few years, I've really put some effort into building a large quantity so as to be able to reduce the price and I'm pleased to tell you that I've succeeded. The prices shown below include FREE SHIPPING on bareroot plants out of their 2" pots. If you would like to receive the plants undisturbed, in their pots, please add .95¢ per plant to cover the extra cost of shipping soil and pots.
7 for $ 35.00 ($5.00 ea)
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Copyright © Barry Glick 1996-2014. All Rights Reserved.
Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
Phone: (304) 497-2208
Last modified February 24, 2009