The Periwinkle plant, Vinca minor, is a superb evergreen ground cover for shady areas. Periwinkles are perennials that grow well in Zones 4-9. They are often used as ground coversand in container plantings. You will find facts and information on growing and caring for periwinkle plants.
Vinca minor grows up to 6” high by 24” in width. Periwinkle flowers appear in shades purple, lavender and blue shades (periwinkle color), and the always popular white.
Periwinkles prefers partial to full shade and moderately fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. If the soil is moist, they may tolerate the sun a little more. Try to provide them with shelter from strong, drying winds. They have trailing stems with small, dark evergreen leaves that form an attractive ground cover. Blue flowers appear in spring and bloom lightly on and off all season long. Place them at the feet of irrigated woody trees along with good companion plants such as ‘fringled bleeding heart’, ‘Alba’ bleeding heart, and ‘Frances Williams’ hosta.
Care of Periwinkle Plants
Plant periwinkles 12-24” apart in spring or fall. The closer the spacing, the faster the ground will be covered. Apply slow-release granular plant food in spring. Stop feeding feeding 6-8 weeks prior to first frost date. If the plants are competing with tree roots, water and feed them regularly. Apply vegetative mulch in summer and winter. Water them deeply when the soil is dry. Too much sun and dry soil conditions may result in yellowing or crispy brown leaves in summer.
Periwinkle plants will naturally layer in the landscape. Pin a branch to the ground so that nodes make contact with the soil. Node sites will produce roots if cultural conditions (moisture and soil) are met. Cover the with mulch and check periodically for root growth. When the roots have formed, snip the branch from the parent plant, leaving some green top growth to accompany the new root system.
Gently remove the new plant, then reset, water, and mulch. They can be divided in spring or autumn by digging around the root clump and lifting. Be sure to use a sharp spade to slice through the root system to make a clean cut. The healthy portions can be reset into the ground. Water them deeply and apply 3” of vegetative mulch around, but not touching, the plants.
Pests and Diseases include: Leaf spot, a common disease, and scale and leaf hoppers are the insect pests that may harm periwinkle plants.
Related species include: ‘Alba Variegata’ which has white flowers and yellow-edged leaves, ‘Atropurpurea’ has burgundy flowers and deep green leaves. ‘Bowle’s Variety’ has large violet flowers and deep green leaves, ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ bears white flowers and deep green leaves, and ‘Multiplex’ has double burgundy flowers.