Vinca major, commonly known as the greater periwinkle is a hardy evergreen ground cover plant that is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. It is a popular landscaping plant due to its ability to form a dense mat of glossy green foliage. The attractive blue-purple flowers that bloom from spring through to autumn are another great advantage that makes gardeners fall in love with this plant.
Vinca major is a hardy plant that is relatively low maintenance once established. It can tolerate a range of soil types and growing conditions, and it is drought-tolerant, which means it requires little watering. It can also be used in a variety of landscaping applications, including as a standalone plant, as a border or edging plant and in hanging baskets or containers.
One thing you have to be aware of is that it is toxic to pets if ingested. To prevent accidental ingestion, it’s best to keep Vinca major out of reach of pets and to supervise them when they’re outside in areas where the plant is growing.
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|Botanical Name||Vinca major|
|Common Name||Greater Periwinkle, Blue Buttons, Large Periwinkle|
|Plant Type||Evergreen perennial, groundcover, trailing vine|
|Mature Size||30-50cm (12-18 in) tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil Type||Any soil type|
|Soil pH||Acid, Neutral, Alkaline|
|Flower Color||Violet, Blue Lavander|
|Hardiness Zones||7-9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Europe, Asia, Africa|
About Greater Periwinkle
- Greater periwinkle is a species of flowering perennial that belongs to the Apocynaceae plant family. It can be found on most continents as it grows natively in the Mediterranean region, in northern Africa, and in Asia. This plant is quite common in North America where it escaped cultivation, becoming invasive in some regions.
- Vinca major is commonly known as greater periwinkle, but it also has other interesting common names such as blue buttons, parwynke, blue smock, the joy of the ground, cockles, ground ivy, cockle shells, pennywinkle, sorcerer’s violet.
- The plant’s name is thought to derive from the Latin word vincire, which means to conquer and it probably refers to the plant’s ability to thrive in a wide range of environments. The second part of the name consists of the Latin-specific epithet major which means “larger” and it helps differentiate between the smaller periwinkle known as Vinca minor and the greater periwinkle.
- Vinca major, commonly referred to as greater periwinkle has a long history of medicinal use. This plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat various diseases, including headaches, eye infections, and menstrual disorders. Its active compounds, vinca alkaloids, have also been used in modern medicine to treat certain types of cancer.
- While Vinca major has medicinal properties, it is also poisonous if ingested in large quantities. The plant contains alkaloids that can cause nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.
- The leaves of Vinca major can be used to produce a greenish-yellow dye that was historically used to colour fabrics.
- The root system of Vinca major can help stabilize soil on slopes and embankments, making it a useful plant for erosion control.
- One of the most notable features of the greater periwinkle is its ability to spread and form a thick carpet of foliage that suppresses weed growth. It is therefore a popular choice for ground cover in large areas such as parks, gardens, and public spaces. It is also used to cover slopes, embankments, and other hard-to-maintain areas.
- The dense growth of greater periwinkle can provide habitat and food for a variety of wildlife, including insects and small mammals.
- Vinca major produces nectar from its flowers, which attracts ants. The ants, in turn, protect the plant from herbivores and other pests.
- Another advantage of greater periwinkle is its versatility in landscaping. It can be used as a standalone plant or combined with other plants to create interesting textures and contrasts. It is also suitable for use as an edging plant or as a filler in containers and hanging baskets.
- While Vinca major is often used as a ground cover plant, it can be invasive in some regions and can outcompete native species. It is important to plant it responsibly and monitor its growth carefully.
- Despite its many benefits, this plant can be invasive in some regions, especially North America, where it is considered a noxious weed. It spreads rapidly through rhizomes and can choke out other plants, including native species. It is therefore important to be cautious when planting Vinca major and to monitor its growth carefully.
- Periwinkles make good companions to oriental hellebores, pulmonarias, robust colchicum, and hardy wintergreen ferns. You can plant periwinkles alongside taller plants that have strong roots and similar growth requirements. Vincas also grow well alongside spring bulb plants such as tulips. As mentioned above, vinca major spreads quickly through rhizomes so it might be wise to use containers when planting it to prevent it from overspreading.
Greater Periwinkle Features: An Overview
- The leaves of Vinca major are dark green, glossy, and oval-shaped with a leathery texture. They grow to about 3-4 inches long and are arranged in an opposite pattern along the trailing stems.
- In spring, the greater periwinkle produces showy, five-petaled flowers that are usually blue or purple, although some cultivars may have pink or white flowers. The flowers are about 2 inches across and appear at the tips of the stems.
- There are several cultivars of Vinca major available, including ‘Variegata’, which has variegated leaves, and ‘Alba’, which has white flowers instead of blue-purple.
- This plant has a prostrate growth habit, meaning it spreads along the ground rather than growing upright. It can reach a height of 6-12 inches and a spread of up to 5 feet.
- There are many different Vinca cultivars available in nurseries and you might notice that the main difference between these cultivars is the flowers. You can opt for light-coloured periwinkle, dark violet, or variegated. Vinca major Variegata’ gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit. Other attractive Vinca cultivars include Vinca major ‘Wojo’s Gem’ and Vinca major var. oxyloba.
Growing Greater Periwinkle
Vinca major is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and propagate. It thrives in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade, but it can tolerate a wide range of soil types and light conditions. It is drought-tolerant once established and does not require frequent watering.
This type of plant has specific soil and temperature requirements for optimal growth. This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, between 6.0 and 7.5. If the soil is too heavy or clay-like, adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss can help improve drainage and nutrient availability.
The greater periwinkle is a plant that can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but it prefers cooler temperatures to hot weather. In general, it grows best in zones that have an average minimum temperature of 0-30°F (-18 to -1°C). In hotter climates, this plant may require more shade and frequent watering to prevent stress and heat damage.
In general, this plant prefers to grow in areas with filtered sunlight or dappled shade, where it can receive some direct sun in the morning or evening but is protected from the hottest part of the day. If you’re planting Vinca major in a location with full sun, you can help protect it from heat stress by mulching around the plants and keeping the soil moist.
Providing some afternoon shade, such as from a nearby tree or building, can also help keep the plant cool during hot weather. In areas with heavy shade, the plant may become leggy and less compact, with fewer flowers. To encourage fuller growth and more blooms, you can prune the plant back in early spring to encourage new growth and remove any dead or damaged branches.
Overall, Vinca major is a versatile plant that can adapt to a variety of growing conditions, but it grows best in soil that is rich in organic matter and moist but well-drained. It also prefers cooler temperatures to hot weather, making it well-suited to gardens in temperate climates.
Planting Greater Periwinkle
As mentioned earlier, Vinca major prefers partial to full shade and moist, well-draining soil, but can also tolerate some sun if the soil stays consistently moist. Before planting, loosen the soil and remove any weeds or debris. If the soil is heavy or clay-like, you can improve drainage by adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss. Dig holes that are slightly larger than the plant’s root ball, and space the plants about 12-18 inches apart.
Place the plant in the hole, and backfill it with soil. Water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots. Adding a layer of mulch around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weeds. The greater periwinkle prefers moist soil, so water regularly during dry spells.
- Vinca Rosea is not shy about flowering during the heat of summer. This little annual can flower continuously for months no matter how hot the temperatures climb.
- Periwinkle grows an as annual plant in USDA zones 3 0 10 reaching heights of 8 - 10 inches.
- Periwinkle easily establishes from ground cover seeds, and it is especially useful for the southern or desert climates or hard to maintain hot spots near a concrete wall or driveway.
- This variety features white blooms that are 1 - 1 1/2 inches across, 5-petalled and have a carmine center. Vinca Little Bright Eyes is ideal for containers, window boxes, in the bed, and as a general ground cover plant. No deadheading is needed to keep the blooms coming!
- Sowing Rate: 2 - 3 seeds per plant or approximately 2,000 seeds covers 50 square feet when planting it as a ground cover.
- You will receive 50 bare root plants Vinca Minor which ready to grow and cover a large area
- Great for areas in shade that other plants have difficulty growing in, including under pine trees. DEER RESISTANT
- Creeping Periwinkle Plants tough, low-maintenance, and pest-free. Once established will suppress weeds that dare to grow in this area. Will do well in full sun or shade, just not under a thick low branched evergreen such as a hemlock
- Vinca Minor plant is considered mostly allergy free and causes little or no allergy problems in most people and fits perfectly into your landscape
- Does well planted April, May, June, July, August, Sept, Oct, Nov even early December most states. In case if any problem arises, please contact ASAP. 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED!
- SEEDS ONLY, no live plants.The photos show are the mature plant in the future, not the actual plant you will receive.
- 100PCS seeds in per bag.
- Perfect for backyard gardens and patio container gardening.
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However, be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. The plant can spread quickly, so prune it back as needed to keep it from overtaking other plants or areas of the garden. With proper care, Vinca major can be a beautiful and low-maintenance addition to your garden.
You can also plant your greater periwinkle indoors as a houseplant, but it may not thrive as well as it would in an outdoor environment. Choose a location with bright, indirect light, near a north or east-facing window. Avoid placing it near heat sources or in areas with drafts. Vinca major doesn’t require much fertilization, but you can feed it every 4-6 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.
Watering Greater Periwinkle
The watering needs of your plant depend on several factors, such as the climate, soil type, and level of sunlight exposure. Vinca major prefers consistently moist soil, so water it regularly during dry spells. Water deeply, so the moisture reaches the roots. Before watering, check the soil moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry at this depth, it’s time to water.
While greater periwinkle likes moist soil, it does not tolerate standing water. Make sure the soil is well-draining and that there are no areas where water can collect. During hot, dry weather, you may need to water more frequently.
However, during cool or rainy weather, you may not need to water as often. Adding a layer of mulch around the plants can help retain moisture and reduce the frequency of watering. Watering your plant in the morning allows the leaves to dry before evening, reducing the risk of disease.
It’s important not to overwater Vinca major, as this can lead to root rot and other problems. To avoid overwatering, make sure the soil has good drainage and allow the soil surface to dry slightly between waterings.
In addition to monitoring the soil moisture level, you can also observe the plant for signs of stress, such as wilting or yellowing leaves, which may indicate that it needs more water. By providing consistent, appropriate watering, you can help ensure healthy growth and a beautiful garden display.
Propagating Greater Periwinkle
Vinca major can be propagated easily by rooting stem cuttings or by dividing the plant. This makes it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. Here are the steps for each method:
Stem cuttings: Take 3- to 4-inch-long stem cuttings from healthy plants. Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem, leaving a few at the top. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone powder, and insert it into moist potting soil or a mix of sand and peat moss.
Water well, and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Place the cutting in a warm, bright spot but out of direct sunlight. The cutting should root in about 2-4 weeks.
Division: To divide the greater periwinkle, dig up an established plant and carefully separate the roots into smaller sections, making sure each section has a healthy root system and some foliage.
Replant the sections in their new location, spacing them at least 12 inches apart. Water well and keep the soil moist until the new plants are established.
With either method, it’s important to keep the soil moist and to protect the new plants from direct sunlight until they are well established. Once the new plants have taken root, they should grow vigorously and fill in the area nicely.
Greater Periwinkle Pests and Diseases
The greater periwinkle is generally not susceptible to many pests or diseases. However, like any plant, it can occasionally be affected by a few common issues. Here are some of the pests and diseases that can affect your plant:
Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects can suck sap from the plant, causing distorted growth and yellowing leaves. They can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Spider mites: These tiny pests can cause webbing and yellowing leaves. They can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Slugs and snails: These molluscs can eat holes in the leaves and stems of Vinca major. They can be controlled with slug bait or by handpicking.
Leaf spot: This fungal disease can cause brown or black spots on the leaves. It can be prevented by providing good air circulation and avoiding overhead watering.
Root rot: This fungal disease can occur in waterlogged soil and can cause the plant to wilt and die. It can be prevented by ensuring good drainage and avoiding overwatering.
In conclusion, Vinca major is a hardy and attractive plant that is well-suited to a range of landscaping applications. Its glossy green foliage and vibrant blue-purple flowers make it a popular choice for ground cover and its ability to suppress weeds and tolerate harsh growing conditions makes it an easy-to-maintain option for landscapers and gardeners alike.
It is a plant with a rich history and many interesting properties. While it is primarily used as a ground cover plant, it has many other uses and benefits, including medicinal properties and the ability to attract ants. However, it should be noted that the greater periwinkle can be invasive in some regions and should be planted with caution.
Are you growing Vinca major a.k.a greater periwinkle in your home or garden? Let us know in the comments!