Common periwinkle

Common periwinkle has beautiful periwinkle blue flowers.

Common periwinkle is widely available for sale as a ground cover and it has been used in landscapes for many decades.  In some areas, however, it is escaping cultivation into natural areas and should be used with caution.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name:

Vinca minor

All Common Names:

Common periwinkle, periwinkle, vinca, myrtle

Family (English):

Dogbane

Family (Botanic):

Apocynaceae

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil

Tolerances:

  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil

Season of Interest:

  • Early winter,
  • Mid winter,
  • Late winter,
  • Early spring,
  • Mid spring,
  • Late spring,
  • Early summer,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Blue,
  • Purple,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate,
  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of spreading

Common periwinkle is low-growing, generally 3 to 6 inches high.  It is a trailing-rooting ground cover.  Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system.  These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil.  New shoots will be formed at the point where rooting occurs.

Plant Care

This ground cover is often planted in shady sites, but it can also be grown in full sun.  Plants grown in full sun can suffer winter damage to their evergreen leaves.  Periwinkle does well in soils ranging from fairly acidic to slightly alkaline.  Avoid planting in wet sites.

Disease, pests, and problems

Stem blights and root rots can occur and are more common in plantings that are overgrown or poorly maintained.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Resistant to deer.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe and Asia.

Leaf description

The simple, opposite leaves are evergreen.  They are oval with a very glossy appearance and entire margins.

Flower description

The flowers are tubular with a flat face and are blue to lavender-blue.  The flowers have five petals and are borne singly, rather than in clusters.
The heaviest flowering occurs in spring, but there can be some sporadic flowering throughout the growing season.

Fruit description

The fruit of periwinkle are small, dry follicles and are not ornamentally important.

 

Cultivars and their differences

Blue and Gold common periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Blue and Gold'): Foliage is variegated, green and gold; flowers are blue.

Bowles common periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Bowles'):  This cultivar flowers very profusely.  May be sold under the name 'La Grave'.

Dart's Blue common periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Dart's Blue'): Flowers are more blue in color; resistance to stem rot.

Purple-flowered common periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Atropurpurea'): Larger flowers are dark violet-purple.

Ralph Shugert common periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Ralph Shugert'):  Leaves edged in creamy white.

Sterling Silver common periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Sterling Silver'): Leaves edged in creamy white.

White-flowered common periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Alba'):  White flowers; growth is less vigorous than that of the species.

Location of Vinca minor (Common periwinkle) at the Arboretum