Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

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Publication 422 - Also available in PDF form at
Clifford W. Collier, Jr., Extension Specialist, Landscape Architecture
George W. Longenecker, Professor Landscape Architecture
Revised by John Jett, Extension Specialist, Horticulture

Vinca Minor (ving'ka m'nor)

Family: Apocynaceae—Dogbane family

Origin: Europe and western Asia

Classification: Viney type plant, broadleaf evergreen

Uses: Ground cover, rock gardens, rock walls

Height: 3 to 6 inches

Spread: 2 feet to indeterminate

Hardiness: Zone 4 (-20F to -10F) (-29C to -23C)

Bark (Stems): Smooth, glabrous, wiry, rooting at the tips and nodes

Flowers: Mid-spring through summer; perfect, tubular; lilac-blue, 5 petals, to " across; often hidden under foliage

Fruit: Follicle, inconspicuous

Foliage: Opposite in 2 or 4 rows, simple, to 2 inches long; glossy, short petiole; oblong to ovate; lustrous dark green above, lighter green beneath; exudes milky juice when broken

Texture: Medium to fine

Culture: Transplant from pots or as a bare root plant into moist, well-drained soil abundantly supplied with organic matter.

Growth Rate: Moderate

Form: Prostrate, hugging the ground forming a dense mat or carpet

Root System: Fibrous, spreading, shallow

Soil Requirement: pH 6.0 to 8.0; rich in organic matter and well drained; tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions.

Maintenance: Average; fertilize in the spring with a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 at a rate of 6 to 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet; obtain 2 year field grown plants or those grown in pots, 9" spacing; tolerant of some mowing, set mower at highest setting and mow in early spring

Situation: Sun or heavy shade, leaves may burn in winter if grown in full sun, but flowers best in full sun

Insects & Diseases: Botrytis Blight, Dieback, Vinca Canker, Leaf Spots, Root & Stem Rot, Aster-yellows

Propagation: Division, softwood cuttings, seed, and layering


Vinca minor ‘Alba’ —White Common Periwinkle, white flowers
Vinca minor ‘Atropurpurea’ —Purple Common Periwinkle, purple flowers
Vinca minor ‘Bowlesii’ —Bowles Common Periwinkle, flowers darker blue and larger than species, grows vigorously in clumps
Vinca minor ‘Flore Pleno’(V.m. ‘Multiplex’) —Purple Double Common Periwinkle, double, purple flowers
Vinca minor ‘Variegata’ —Yellow Blotch Common Periwinkle, blue flowers, foliage variegated yellow

Remarks: Good ground cover despite problems; transplants well, plant in early September or early spring; sometimes called Myrtle, Running Myrtle, and Lesser Periwinkle; bulbs may be planted under the periwinkle for seasonal change. Will remain long after cultivation ceases.