By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
The common periwinkle plant (Vinca minor) is often spotted creeping down steep hillsides and banks, offering a green and growing affect in areas which might otherwise be bare. The periwinkle plant is exceptional as an erosion control specimen. Periwinkle is also used as a spreading shrub in USDA garden zones 4 to 8. Periwinkle is often also called creeping vinca.
Periwinkle is most often grown as a ground cover. The periwinkle plant takes its common name from the attractive blooms that dot the foliage in April to May, appearing in the color of periwinkle blue. More than 30 varieties of this plant exist, some with variegated foliage and other colors of blooms. When planting periwinkle, choose what best suits your landscape.
How to Grow Periwinkle Plants
This broadleaf evergreen plant grows easily and periwinkle care most often involves keeping the prolific spreader in check. Periwinkle, once established, is drought resistant and needs little other care if properly sited in the landscape.
Periwinkle care after planting may include the removal of tall weeds in the area. Once established, growing periwinkle will likely shade out future growth of weeds and eliminate this chore.
The periwinkle plant grows best in a partially shaded area in acidic soil; however, it can thrive in a variety of sunlight and soil conditions. Growing periwinkle in partial shade creates more vigorous growth. In many instances, extreme vigor may not be desirable unless the periwinkle plant needs to cover a large area. One small plant can spread to 8 feet across.
Growing periwinkle as a ground cover is common as it rarely reaches more than 4 inches in height. Periwinkle is best used for controlling erosion as described above. Do not plant near other specimens in the flower bed or garden, as it may overtake and choke out valuable plantings. This plant may be used as a climber on a non-living support and is useful for blocking views when used in this way.
Before planting periwinkle, make sure it is what you want in the area, as it is difficult to remove once established. Periwinkle appears low on the exotic invasive list, but can escape cultivation in the garden. It is rarely found escaping into undisturbed woodlands.
Now that you know how to grow periwinkle and manage its growth, you can make an informed decision before planting the specimen in your landscape. Periwinkle ground cover should not be confused with annual periwinkle, as annual periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) is a different plant.