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 Vinca subsp. var.  Periwinkle, Vinca
Large Periwinkle (Vinca major) flower
Habit: herbaceous
Height: to
Width: to
20cm70cm 1m2m
Height: 20 cm to 70 cm
Width: 1 m to 2 m
Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: part-sun, shade
Water: moderate
Features: flowers, ground cover
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones: vary by species
Flower features:
Apocynaceae > Vinca var. ,

Vinca, pronounced /ˈvɪŋkə/,[1] from Latin vincire: "to bind, fetter", formerly known as pervinca[2], is a genus of five species in the family Apocynaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. The common name periwinkle is shared with the related genus Catharanthus (and also with the common seashore mollusc, Littorina littorea).

They are subshrubs or herbaceous, and have slender trailing stems 1-2 m (3-6 feet) long but not growing more than 20-70 cm (8-30 inches) above ground; the stems frequently take root where they touch the ground, enabling the plant to spread widely. The leaves are opposite, simple broad lanceolate to ovate, 1-9 cm (0.25-3.5 inches) long and 0.5-6 cm (0.25-2.25 inches) broad; they are evergreen in four species, but deciduous in the herbaceous V. herbacea, which dies back to the root system in winter. Vinca will spread extremely fast.

The flowers, produced through most of the year, are salverform (like those of Phlox), simple, 2.5-7 cm (1-3 inches) broad, with five usually violet (occasionally white) petals joined together at the base to form a tube. The fruit consists of a group of divergent follicles; a dry fruit which is dehiscent along one rupture site in order to release seeds.

Because the plant spreads quickly, it is sometimes used as a groundcover. Although attractive, both Vinca major and Vinca minor can be considered invasive because of the rapid spreading and the possibility of choking out native species if the vine enters a forested area where it is not controlled [3] [4]. The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists both Vinca major and Vinca minor in a list of invasive vines found in the Southeastern United States [5]. In other cases, Vinca has been recommended as a fire retardant ground cover [6].

For example, Vinca major (also known as big leaf periwinkle) is considered by some to be an ideal ground cover for mountain areas of moderate climate, such as in southern California (20 deg F to 90 deg F). It is fire retardant and relatively drought resistant. It will grow thick enough to mitigate erosion on hillsides and is invasive enough to choke out undesirable grass/brush, but not too invasive to control. It grows very well in shaded to semi-shaded areas without irrigation, and will grow fine in direct sunlight if watered occasionally (though may wilt in temperatures above 85 deg F). It goes dormant in the winter and will "lie down" after a freeze, but will not die even when covered with snow for an extended period. It will return up to 18 in. tall by the beginning of summer, then slow down as the temperatures increase. With the exception of boundary control where necessary and light watering when desired, Vinca major requires absolutely no maintenance, and will thrive even at elevations over 6000 ft.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Vinca (pervinca, old Latin name of periwinkle, used by Pliny). Apocynaceae. Erect or procumbent or trailing herbs or subshrubs, some used for bloom in the flower-garden, others for decorative foliage in the greenhouse and in window-boxes and others for permanent ground-cover out-of-doors.

Leaves opposite: fls. axillary, solitary, rather large; calyx 5-parted, not glandular, lobes narrow, acuminate; corolla salver-shaped, tube cylindrical, lobes 5, large, twisted, overlapping to the left; stamens included, above the middle of the tube; disk none; ovary 2 distinct carpels, glabrous: follicles 2, erect or divergent, narrowly cylindrical.—About 12 species, Medit. region, Trop. Amer., India, and Madagascar.

One of the commonest and best plants for covering the ground in deep shade, especially under trees and in cemeteries, is V. minor. It is a hardy trailing plant with shining evergreen foliage and blue salver-shaped five-lobed flowers about an inch across, appearing in spring or early summer. It forms a dense carpet to the exclusion of other herbs. It thrives best in moist half-shaded positions, but will grow in the deepest shade even in poor soil, especially if it is stony. It is a capital plant for clothing steep banks, covering rocks, and carpeting groves. It can be planted successfully on a large scale any time from spring to fall during mild or rainy weather. It is propagated by division or by cuttings, as seeds very rarely mature. The periwinkle will live in city yards under trees where grass will not thrive. V. minor is the commonest and perhaps most variable species. Varieties with white, purple, and double flowers are kept in most nurseries, as also a form with variegated foliage. V. major is larger in all its parts than the common periwinkle and not so hardy. It is well known to florists. A variegated form of it is seen in nearly every veranda-box in the country. V. rosea is a tender plant of erect habit which is used chiefly for summer bedding. It grows about a foot high and has rosy purple or white flowers with or without a reddish eye, and often 2 inches across. The plants bloom continuously from the time they are set out until frost. It can be grown in large masses for public parks with somewhat less expense than geraniums. Mr. Stromback, head gardener of Lincoln Park, Chicago, has recorded his experience with V. rosea in Florist's Review 1:141 as follows: "The seed is sown in January or February in flats of sandy soil in a temperature of 65° to 70°. When the seedlings show the second leaf, they are pricked out about an inch apart in trays of the same soil, and when the little plants have five or six leaves they are potted into 2-inch rose-pots, and later shifted to 3-inch pots. The majority are bedded out from the 3-inch pots. The soil of the bed should be a sandy loam if possible, and the plants will not do well in a very heavy soil. In bedding, set the plants about a foot apart. They require more water than a geranium, and when the bed is watered it should be given a good soaking and then let alone for a few days. The plants require no trimming." The amateur will find V. rosea a satisfactory window-plant that can be grown with little trouble from seeds started as late as April, but of course such plants will not bloom as early as the bedding stock propagated in January or February. V. rosea is the largest-flowered vinca, and it seeds freely.

V. acutiloba, Hort., is a trade name for a white-fld. form, closely related to V. major.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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Vinca balcanica
Vinca difformis
Vinca herbacea
Vinca major
Vinca minor


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