For many homeowners, planning and planting an annual flower bed is a yearly garden routine. Popular bedding plants not only add a vibrant burst of color, but many continue to bloom throughout the entire summer season. One such bedding plant, annual vinca, is an extremely popular choice for growers.
Annual vinca plants are low growing flowering plants that come in a selection of colors, usually white to pink. Also known as annual periwinkle, these plants thrive in a wide range of growing conditions. The ability of vinca to grow and bloom throughout periods of hot weather make it especially popular. However, like many annuals, there are some concerns in regards to pest and disease tolerance.
Vinca Plant Diseases
When discussing the vinca plant, problems may result for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, issues with vinca are related to the weather. Growing seasons which have been especially rainy can help contribute to the spread of disease among vinca plants. This issue may also be compounded when the flowers have been planted in less than ideal conditions, as they do require well-draining soil.
Fungal diseases, such as phtyophthora blight and leaf spot, are common among annual vinca plants. When soils are excessively wet, fungal spores are able to reproduce and infect plants. Infected plants first demonstrate signs of infection in the form of yellow to dark brown spots on leaves. As the disease progresses, the plant and roots may begin to rot.
In severe infections, it is possible to lose entire plantings of vinca. While it may be possible to treat the plants with fungicide, many suggest removing infected plants from the garden to prevent spread.
Vinca Insect Pests
Insect attacks on this plant are few but can happen on occasion. Some of the more commonly seen pests on annual vinca plants include aphids, spider mites, scale and whiteflies. Generally, most of these pests can be controlled with beneficial insects that feed on them or with the use of insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Prevention of Vinca Plant Problems
While not all problems growing vinca can be avoided, there are several ways in which to proactively maintain the health of plants. Providing optimal growth environments will help to reduce vinca insect pests and diseases.
Like many plants, it is important that gardeners prepare well amended and well-draining flower beds before planting. In addition to drainage, vinca plants also require adequate spacing. Proper spacing, which allows air circulation, may help decrease the chance of some forms of blight.
When working to prevent vinca plant diseases, soil conditions are of great importance. Annual vinca plants are unique in that the plants prefer soil that is somewhat acidic. In addition to this acidity, both soil temperature and night time temperature should be allowed to warm in the spring or early summer before planting. Crop rotation is also beneficial to maintaining a healthy flower bed, especially if disease has been a problem in previous growing seasons.
With suitable growing conditions, the chance of pests or disease of annual vinca is limited, and this heat- and drought-tolerant plant will reward home gardeners with prolific blooms.