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.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Ground cover
- Mixed border,
- Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Acid soil,
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained 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:
Shape or Form:
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.
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.
The simple, opposite leaves are evergreen. They are oval with a very glossy appearance and entire margins.
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.
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.