The Complete Guide for Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra Terminalis) Care

The Japanese Spurge, otherwise known as the Pachysandra Terminalis is a pretty well known shrub plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, this is exactly what we’ll cover in this Japanese Spurge Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Japanese Spurge are the following:

  • Water: The Japanese Spurge needs soil that is constantly moist through regular watering.
  • Light: Keep your Pachysandra Terminalis in an environment where it can receive full to partial shade on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Japanese Spurge in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Japanese Spurge this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Pachysandra terminalis flowers

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Japanese Spurge belongs to the Buxaceae family, the genus Pachysandra and the species Terminalis, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Pachysandra Terminalis (pak-ih-SAN-druh ter-mih-NAH-liss).

As with other Pachysandra’s, the Japanese Spurge is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

The Japanese SpurgeJapan and North Central China.

Knowing your plant’s native region is very useful, as it can give you tips on which environment is best for your Japanese Spurge. If you keep it in mind, you can try to replicate these conditions at home, and you’ll likely end with a healthier plant.

With this in mind, the Pachysandra Terminalis will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 8 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a and the ideal climate zone is between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Japanese Spurge is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, what size of Japanese Spurge are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…

The Pachysandra Terminalis can grow up to 3″ – 4″ (7cm – 10cm) in 3″ – 4″ (7cm – 10cm) and 7″ – 8″ (17cm – 20cm) in 7″ – 8″ (17cm – 20cm). 

These dimensions make the Japanese Spurge a relatively small shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful spreading shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 6″ – 12″ (15cm – 30cm) free so the Japanese Spurge can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Japanese Spurge is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Pachysandra Terminalis needs soil that is constantly moist through regular watering.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Pachysandra terminalis care


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Japanese Spurge in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, moist, and occasionally dry properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Japanese Spurge is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Japanese Spurge prefers to have soil with good drainage, moist, and occasionally dry properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

This is why most experts agree that the Japanese Spurge requires soil with clay, high organic matter, and loam (silt), which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Japanese Spurge requires full to partial shade in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in partial sun to shade, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Pachysandra Terminalis in from full or deep shade (no direct sunlight or at most 2 hours per day), to little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day).


Being an evergreen plant, the Japanese Spurge will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


You can expect your Japanese Spurge to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring).

In particular, this shrub is well known for its repeat flowering around the plant enthusiast community.

The Japanese Spurge produces some beautiful white, or white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Japanese Spurge have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Pachysandra Terminalis to be around (3-6 inches) in size.

Pachysandra terminalis buds

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Japanese Spurge is well known for its tolerance to dry soil, drought, clay soil and animals like rabbit and deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Pachysandra Terminalis will be fine.


Now, let’s talk garden and how your Japanese Spurge will look best in it.

Most Pachysandra Terminalis owners agree that this shrub will look great in most asian/zen gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage, city and courtyard, coastal garden, and in prairie and meadow styles. 

In particular, the Japanese Spurge’s best location within your garden is in ground covers, banks and slopes, and in underplanting roses and shrubs, others use it for landscaping in a rock garden, firescaping/fire wise, ground cover, or a woodland garden.


And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Japanese Spurge to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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