What is commonly referred to as vinca, can be found as both an annual and perennial…but they are not the same plant. Let me explain:
Perennial vinca (sometimes called periwinkle or creeping myrtle) can be found in two basic forms: Vinca minor and Vinca major. Vinca major is slightly bigger, slightly less cold hardy and slightly less shade tolerant than vinca minor. There is also a herbaceous vinca, but we won’t get into that.
Annual vinca isn’t even vinca …and its not always an annual. When botanists first discovered it, they thought it looked similar to vinca and named it Vinca rosea. They later discovered that it behaves quite differently than vinca and changed its name to Catharanthus roseus. By that time it was too late and the name had already stuck.
- ♪♪ You say vinca, I say Catharanthus roseus ♪♪
- Lets talk about the Annuals.
- Now lets talk about Perennials.
- Major vs Minor (Is it little league season yet?)
- Learn About Vincas
- This Information About Vinca Vine Will Make You Add it to Your Garden
- Plant Description
- Plant Care
- Tips for Promoting Blooming
- How to kill invasive periwinkle
♪♪ You say vinca, I say Catharanthus roseus ♪♪
For practical purposes I’ll call these plants Annual Vinca and Perennial Vinca. This is all you’ll need to know when buying them at the store. Only overly educated plant geeks (like myself) will want to explain the name difference to you.
Lets talk about the Annuals.
White Annual Vinca
In India annual vinca are called Sadaphuli. The name means always flowering. These beauties will flower from early spring until late fall if the weather stays reasonably warm. Vinca flowers can range from white to shades of purple, pink and red. They are tidy little plants. No need to deadhead the spent blooms. This plant is self cleaning.
Pink Annual Vinca
Its foliage is dark green and leathery, with a shiny appearance. They look so good, you’d swear they are fake! Because each plant it compact and low growing (under 2 ft) they make great border plants. Annual vinca do really well in heat and drought. Although they don’t particularly like cool temperatures or moisture, they will grow nicely in most climates in the summertime. They prefer full sun, but they’ll do just fine in partial sun.
Annual vinca is a tropical/subtropical plant. In hot areas, they grow as a perennial. In warm areas they grow as a self seeding annual. In cooler areas, like here in NE Ohio, they will usually need to be planted each year.
Annual vinca is not terribly hard to grow from seed as long as you are careful with your moisture levels. Too much moisture in the soil can cause the seeds to rot or the seedlings to have fungal issues. (Something else helpful to know: They germinate in the dark.) Its pretty inexpensive to just buy the plant at a garden center. Around here, Walmart sells them in packs of 6 for under $2.00. Water them right after planting, then not again unless you see the leaves start to curl.
Now lets talk about Perennials.
The leaves on this perennial vinca vine retain their green color through out the winter.
Perennial vinca (called vinca major and minor) are trailing evergreen vines. They don’t climb like ivy, but spread low across the ground. Perennial vinca grows best in shady areas and prefers cool, moist soil. Once they become established they will begin to spread. In some states they are on the invasive plant list. Vinca major is more aggressively invasive than vinca minor.
Although invasive, vinca minor is still sold as a common ornamental ground cover and is great for covering up unsightly objects- like tree stumps. Vinca minor, in most cases, will not choke out other plants growing in the area. They just fill in around them. Vinca major, being more aggressive, can take over other plants in your flower bed. There are variegated leaf varieties of vinca minor that are said to be easier to control.
I have vinca minor growing in a landscape bed between my driveway and front lawn. I planted a little and it spread quickly in areas where I wanted it to. I have not found it hard to contain. My normal lawn mowing routine has been enough to keep stray vines from trying to root into my grass. It added color to a shady area of my landscape and since it has filled in, I no longer need to mulch that bed.
Perennial vinca vines are great for hiding stumps!
Vinca major has larger leaves and larger flowers than vinca minor. Both bloom early spring into late fall. Purplish-blue flowers are most common, although there are some cultivators that produce white and red flowers. The blooms on vinca minor are relatively small- they measure about an inch across. Vinca major boasts blooms that are double that size.
This violet-blue flower is typical of common vinca minor.
Perennial vinca can be grown from seed and is easily grown from cuttings. Perennial vinca have 2 types of stems: flowering and rooting. Simply select a vine that does not have a flower and root it as a softwood cutting.
Major vs Minor (Is it little league season yet?)
- smaller leaves and flowers
- thrives in shade
- perennial evergreen
- less invasive
- grow to about 1 ft and are more compact than vinca major
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- larger leaves and flowers
- slightly less shade tolerant
- slightly less cold tolerant
- more invasive
- grow to about 2 ft high
Vinca flowers are a low maintenance way to add color to your garden and landscapes, but there are big differences between the annual vinca and perennial vinca. Let’s recap.
- Thrives in hot, dry temperatures
- Full sun
- Self seeding annual in warm climates
- Neat, compact border plant
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- Cool, moist soil
- Great for shady areas
- Evergreen vine
- Used as spreading ground cover
- Can be invasive
Learn About Vincas
Alternaria Leaf Spot: Small, round reddish brown spots with white to grey centers form on the upper surface of the leaves and along the midrib. The lesions may encircle the stems and cause wilt. This disease is worse in warm, wet or very humid weather. Burpee Recommends: Avoid getting water on the foliage. Remove infected plant parts and do not work around wet plants. Provide plenty of air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Botrytis: This fungus causes a grey mold on flowers, leaves, stems and buds. It thrives in cool wet weather conditions. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plant parts, avoid watering at night and getting water on the plant when watering. Make sure plants have good air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots of seedlings as well as mature roots. Burpee Recommends: Practice crop rotation and do not plant related crops in the same area for several years. Pull up and discard infected plants. Make sure your soil has excellent drainage. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Virus (Various causes): The most characteristic sign of virus is tight and dark green mottling of the leaves. Young leaves may be bunched. Young plants may have a yellowish tone and become stunted. Burpee Recommends: This disease is readily spread by handling. Destroy diseased plants and the plants on either side.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Scale: Small bugs look like brown, black, gray to white bumps on the stems of plants. Scale may not have any apparent legs and may not move. Scales have a sucking mouth part. Scale may produce honeydew so leaves and stems may be sticky. Scale can weaken the plant causing it to grow very slowly and may wilt at the middle of the day. Burpee Recommends: Completely spray the stems with Insecticidal soap. For a severe infestation contact your local County Extension Service for recommendation for your area.
Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
Vine Weevil: This insect cuts irregular notches in leaf margins and grubs feed on plant roots, sometimes causing the death of the plant. Adults are approximately 5/16 inch long, dull black with dirty yellow marking on the wing cases. The grubs are c-shaped, 3/8 inches long, with light brown heads. Burpee Recommends: Handpick adults at night, shake the plants over newspaper to dislodge them. Check under pots where they hide during the day. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.
Whitefly: These are small white flying insects that often rise up in a cloud when plants are disturbed or brushed against. Burpee Recommends: They are difficult to control without chemicals. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.
This Information About Vinca Vine Will Make You Add it to Your Garden
Vinca is a genus of herbaceous plants, that are commonly grown in gardens as ground cover. These herbaceous plants are known for their vigorous growth, which explains why they are usually recognized as invasive plants. Learn more about the vinca vine and how to care for it, through this Gardenerdy article.
Vinca is actually a genus of herbaceous or sub-shrub plants. The plants of this genus belong to the family, Apocynaceae. The genus Vinca includes six species of plants, of which the ‘vinca minor’ and ‘vinca major’ are more commonly grown in the gardens as groundcover. Both the species are known to be invasive, as they can spread quite rapidly. The vinca major is commonly known as variegated vinca, while vinca minor is commonly called ‘periwinkle flower’ and ‘creeping myrtle’.
As the name suggests, the vinca vine is an evergreen vine with a slender trailing stem, that usually does not exceed a height of 8 to 30 inches. However, it is a fast growing plant that can spread quite rapidly over the ground in a short period of time. This is the reason why it is enlisted as an invasive vine of the Southeastern United States, by the U. S Department of Agriculture. The long and slender stem roots at the nodes at places where it touches the ground. This gives the plant a strong support to spread across a large area.
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The plant produces simple flowers in spring and throughout the summer. Its flowers are small and delicate, and are usually violet in color. But occasionally, vinca vines are found to produce white blossoms as well. The plant also produces dry fruits that rupture to release the seeds. The major and the minor vinca can be distinguished by the appearance of their leaves. The minor vinca is found with uniformly green foliage, while the major or variegated vinca is characterized by green foliage, edged with a creamy white border.
The plant grows well in a partially-shaded area. However, it can also be grown in places exposed to full sun. The plant prefers well-drained soil. The ideal time for planting this vine is spring and summer. Stem cuttings are usually used for propagating the plant. The soil should be kept moist to promote its rapid growth. So, water the vine once in a week during the first growing season.
However, the frequency of watering can be reduced during winter and spring. To ensure better growth, the soil should be kept moist to about 1 inch depth. So, check the soil moisture before watering the plant. Once, the plant matures, it requires only minimal care and attention.
Tips for Promoting Blooming
The plant should receive adequate sunlight to produce better blooms. In fact, flower production can get delayed, if the plant is not getting enough sunlight. It has been observed that the plant blooms profusely, when it is exposed to full sun. So, shift the plant to an area that receives more sunlight. But if you have grown vinca on the ground, then ensure that the plant is not shaded by the large trees and other plants of your garden. If branches of other trees and plants are shading your vinca vine, then prune them immediately.
You can also apply a light water soluble or slow-release fertilizer in spring to promote blooming. Usually, this plant can be fertilized once in every two years. If the fertilizer is dry, then be sure to dilute it before applying. Do not use a fertilizer with a very high nitrogen content. In extremely cold regions, the plant may not survive the harsh winter. In such areas, plants grown in containers should be kept indoor in winter till the arrival of spring. It is very important to ensure that the plant survives more than one growing season, so that it can produce better blooms.
Vinca vine is a very hardy plant that can tolerate heat and drought. But it is an invasive plant that needs to be pruned at regular intervals, in order to prevent its overgrowth. So, cut and pull out the end of the vine, and remove all undesired parts, and throw them in your compost bin. If left on the ground, many new plants will emerge from these pieces. If maintained properly, this plant can look really beautiful under the large trees of your garden.
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How to kill invasive periwinkle
Yes, periwinkle is a weed commonly seen in patches here and there in the county. It is Mediterranean in origin so very much at home here and not bothered by summer drought. I would expect either Crossbow or similar broadleaved herbicides to do a decent job of controlling this weed, as well as glyphosate (Roundup). I don’t know what the product label says about the control of this specific weed, however. And a single application may not be sufficient for control, as appears to be the case here.
Many plants have waxy foliage that does make herbicide use more challenging and Vinca may well be one of them. For these plants an adjuvant of some kind may well increase efficacy of the herbicide. I would follow the directions on the label for selecting one of these, however, as some adjuvants will wok better with specific herbicides.
Other than that, if it is possible to use a string trimmer on the plant to reduce the foliage that will act to reduce vigor and probably make it easier to dig out the roots by making the root clumps easier to find. Another idea might be that although herbicides usually work better with a good complement of foliage to absorb the product, perhaps string trimming followed by a targeted application of an herbicide applied to the cut stems at the roots would help the herbicide penetrate the plant.
Feel free to write directly with questions.