The common periwinkle, also known as vinca, is perfect for planting in spots where other plants may not be able to grow. This hardy plant is able to tolerate a broad range of conditions and soils, including drought and clay and alkaline. It's also a great plant to place on sloping ground to prevent erosion.
Periwinkles are tiny and come in a range of colors, including white, red, pink, blue and purple. The plant blooms best when planted in full sun and will start to flower in the spring and summer.
While it is possible to grow periwinkle from seed, you will find that the growth is quite slow. A much better way to achieve beautiful blooms in the same year as planting is to purchase nursery plants. Just a few small plants are enough for a large area as they spread quite quickly. Look for plants at your local nursery or plant store that have glossy and rich green foliage.
Before you plant your periwinkle plants, give them a great start by enriching the soil with manure, compost, and peat moss. This will help to improve drainage before planting your young plants. Because periwinkles are so hardy, they can cope well in either shade or full sun. This gives you a lot of options when deciding where to plant them in your garden.
It's important before planting your periwinkle that you get a good idea of how much space they will take up in your garden once fully established. Periwinkle can grow 2 feet wide and 3 to 6 inches in height. It's a good idea to space plants at least 8-10 inches apart as they will spread over a wide area.
The best time to plant is during early fall or spring. Apply lots of water after planting and keep the soil moist for the first ten weeks. Once they are established, you should dig up and discard any plants that have grown outside of their boundary. Surprisingly, you can even mow periwinkle by setting your mower blade on its highest setting. This is a great way of taking care of plants that become a little straggly.
The great thing about periwinkles is that they can be grown practically anywhere. Whether you are looking to plant them in pots, under a mature tree or to cover a large flowerbed, there is a great chance they will thrive. They can be planted in a wide variety of soil. Just make sure that it is well-drained soil and that it doesn't contain any wood products as this can cause a fungus gnat problem.
If you have areas of your garden where grass simply refuses to grow, the hardy periwinkle could be your savior. Because they spread quickly and cover a lot of ground, periwinkles can create a lush and beautiful ground cover that has the added benefit of flowering at least once a year. They also look fantastic planted underneath trees, in hanging baskets and on the border of flower beds.
One major problem with periwinkles is a disease known as stem rot. Some varieties, such as Cora, are less susceptible to this problem, but there are ways you can protect all varieties. The disease is caused by fungal micro-organisms that are present in the soil. To minimize the chances of your periwinkles being affected, work compost into the soil when planting and space plants 8-10 inches apart. You can also use a hardwood mulch to prevent roots from rotting.
How often you water your periwinkles will depend largely on their location. For example, those plants in a sunny spot may require watering every day during the summer season. During the winter, only a little water may be necessary. Try not to overwater as this can promote stem rot. Fertilizers are not usually necessary as periwinkles can thrive in soil without extra help.
Periwinkles are very robust throughout the year, including during the winter months. Many are able to tolerate temperatures that reach -20 degrees. However, if you are expecting many severe touches of frost over winter, it might be advisable to cover them with garden fleece or brushwood. Avoid using bark to cover the plants as this can stunt the growth of your plants.
Periwinkles also do very well indoors and look beautiful in pots or hanging baskets. Because they thrive in direct sunlight, the best place for them is in a window that receives full sun for most of the day. A healthy plant will need at least six hours of sunshine each day to give its best.