If you're looking for the perfect flowering perennial for your garden or landscape, stop looking - you've found it! The vinca vine can handle whatever soil you have, doesn't need to be watered (most of the time), doesn't require pruning, doesn't require fertilization, and can handle part shade to the full sun! It multiplies quickly and trails, making it perfect for window boxes and ground cover. The foliage stays green, the flowers bloom for months on end, and it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds!
Need we say more? Read on to learn how to plant and grow your own vinca vine plant.
Full shade to full sun
Well-drained, slightly acidic soil
What Is Vinca Vine?
Vinca vines are typically sold in nurseries and greenhouses as annuals, perfect for hanging baskets and window boxes. But - although they are typically planted with other annuals, vinca vines are actually perennials! And hardy ones, at that! These trailing vines have glossy, light green leaves and pale purple or blue flowers that first appear in early spring and will last through summer and into early fall. Their trailing habit makes them a favorite in container gardens, but it also makes them a great plant to use as ground cover along the edges of landscape beds.
Originally from Asia Minor, vinca vines are considered invasive. Like all invasive species, it's important to cut them back regularly. This pruning keeps them from overtaking their space and reduces the amount of seeds they produce.
Vinca Major vs. Vinca Minor
There are two types of perennial vincas.
Vinca Major, also known as "greater periwinkle" and "bigleaf periwinkle," is a variegated vinca vine. They are semi-evergreen, meaning they'll retain their color for most of the year or even all year if your climate is warm enough. Their leaves showcase beautiful variegation of dark and light greens. However, they are more prone to pest problems.
Vinca Minor is known as "common periwinkle" and "dwarf periwinkle." It boasts more blooms than vinca major, although each flower is smaller. It is also more likely to be available in additional colors, from light pink to red. Vinca minor is more resistant to pest issues and completely deer resistant.
Vinca Vine Care Requirements
Vinca vine prefers full sun, but it's a hardy plant and will grow great even in partial shade. If planted in a location with only partial sun, it simply won't bloom as much - but the foliage color and thickness won't suffer. Full shade conditions should be avoided.
Vinca vines are rather drought tolerant! They don't require daily watering. If you grow them outdoors, as long as you get rain every now and then, they'll grow just fine. Consider giving them a drink if you hit a particularly long dry spell during the summer.
When grown indoors, it's best to apply water to the roots instead of the entire plant, and best to water earlier in the day.
Vinca vine will grow outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9. If you live in one of the cooler zones, your vine is less likely to achieve evergreen status, although it will come back every year in the spring.
As long as you plant your vinca vine in well-draining soil, it will grow well. It does prefer slightly acidic soil. If you'd like, you can mulch around and underneath the vines. This mulching will keep weeds at bay and help the soil retain moisture between rains.
Vincas can be planted both in a pot near a sunny window or outside in a flower bed as long as it can get all its growing requirements.
Vincas are low maintenance and really don't need fertilizing. However, if you want to boost your plants, work a granulated starter fertilizer through the soil before planting, and then apply a slow-release fertilizer every month during the blooming season.
Vincas are considered a "self-cleaning" plant - meaning that they drop their spent blooms on their own, and you don't need to deadhead them. They don't require pruning, either! However, because they are invasive and do spread rapidly, it's wise to cut them back once or twice a year and stay on top of runners. There are nodes along the length of each vine, and those nodes will quickly take root and produce new growth.
The vinca vine can handle it when conditions are dry, but it's prone to disease if the weather has been particularly rainy. Fungal diseases, such as phytophthora blight and leaf spot, are common when the soil stays too wet for too long. You'll see the infection with yellow and brown leaf spots. Eventually, the roots will get infected, and the plant will die. Fungicide can help, but removing the infected plants is best.
Vinca major tends to have more problems with pests than vinca minor. These pests include aphids, spider mites, scales, and white flies. Each of these pests has a natural predator, and mild infestations will likely rectify themselves. If that doesn't seem to be happening in your case, use an insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Are Vinca Vines Pet Friendly?
All parts of the vinca plant are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses and can not be ingested. Thankfully, most pets find the taste of vinca unpleasant and will quickly spit it out if they do take a nibble. This is especially important, as the side effects can be quite serious!
Symptoms of vinca poisoning include upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, muscle weakness, tremors, and seizures. Vinca vines also contain alkaloids that can cause a drop in blood pressure if consumed in small amounts and paralysis or death in large quantities.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet appears to have eaten any part of a vinca plant.