Do you grow pachysandra as a groundcover? If you do, I bet you grow the Asian species, Pachysandra terminalis. It’s about 8″ tall, stands stiffly upright, and has a terminal cluster of white flowers in spring. And what’s more, I bet you never knew there is a native species of pachysandra. There is–Pachysandra procumbens, also called Allegheny pachysandra. It’s a bit bigger, has stems that recline gracefully, spreads nicely, is evergreen, and sends up flower stalks from the ground in very early spring. What’s more, its leaves turn variegated as they mature, so in winter it’s all silvery and dark green.
I grow Allegheny pachysandra intermixed with two kinds of native ferns in a bed on the north side of my house. It never gets more than an hour of sun. In the photo above, you see it alongside a hayscented fern (Dennstaedtia punctiloba). In the photo below, you’ll also see Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) on the left. If you’ve got a shady spot with hard, dry soil where nothing seems to do well, try this combination. Within a very few years, you’ll have a lovely, evergreen, native groundcover.