The common periwinkle plant (Vinca minor) is often spotted creeping down steep hillsides and banks, offering a green and growing effect 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 may often be called creeping vinca or creeping myrtle as well.
Periwinkle is most often grown as a groundcover. 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 bloom colors. When planting periwinkle, choose what best suits your landscape.
How to Grow Periwinkle Plants
This broad-leaf 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 care if properly sited in the landscape.
Periwinkle care after planting may require 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 (2 m.) across.
Growing periwinkle as a groundcover is common, as it rarely reaches more than 4 inches (10 cm.) 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. In fact, the plant may be problematic in some areas, so be sure to check the status of this vinca in your region.
Alternative plants, should this one not be suitable in your location, include ajuga, wintercreeper, creeping juniper, and partridgeberry.
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 groundcover should not be confused with annual periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), which is a different plant.