Also called myrtle, this perennial evergreen vine is a member of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, that also includes milkweed, oleander, and bluestar. It is native from central and southern Europe to the Baltic States and southwestern Asia in Turkey where it grows in fields and woodland edges. Non-flowering stems root at all the nodes so that it quickly spreads to form a dense low growing mat. The glossy, dark green leaves are leathery and up to 1.5″ long. Bright blue tubular flowers are .75-1” across and are born in spring and sometime sporadically in summer and fall. White and purple flowered cultivars and varieties are available. Although periwinkle prefers moist conditions it does well in dry soil and is a good choice as a ground cover and for controlling erosion. Its cascading nature is particularly attractive in window boxes and other containers. The genus name, Vinca, is from the Latin word vincio meaning bind/wind around, and refers to the use of the plant in ancient times to make into wreath. The specific epithet, minor, is the Latin word meaning less and refers to the the size of the leaf compared to those of another species, Vinca major.
Type: Perennial evergreen vine
Bloom: Bright blue flowers .75-1” across are born in spring; cultivars and varieties may be white or purple; may bloom sporadically during the summer.
Foliage: Dark green, smooth, glossy, 1 ½” long, leaves are evergreen; may be variegated.
Size: 6-12” H, spreading
Light: Part shade to full shade; may yellow in full sun
Soil: Fertile, moist to dry, well-drained
Hardiness: Zones 4-9
Care: Low maintenance
Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to blight, canker, dieback and leaf spot
Propagation: Division; terminal cuttings of non-flowering stems.
Companion Plants: Coral bells, ferns, hosta, impatients, Solomon’s Seal
- ‘Jekyll’s White’ (white, more floriferous than var. alba)
- var. alboplena (double white flowers)
- var. atropurpurea (large, dark purple flowers)
- ‘Sterling silver’ dark blue flowers, leaves with white margins)
- ‘Variegata’ (yellow variegated leaves, pale blue flowers)