Foliage: Small leaves; evergreen
Height: About 4 inches tall
Spread: About 8 feet
Shape: Low-growing ground cover
Main features: Common Periwinkle is an attractive low-growing broad leaved evergreen ground cover. The plant produces 1-inch blue-violet flowers in early spring that are noticeable upon close inspection. Plants do best in light shade but will tolerate full sun and full shade; full sun plantings often show leaf discoloration. Common periwinkle has been documented as an invasive species. NatureServe’s overall invasive rank is Low, and the ecological subrank is Insignificant.
NatureServe’s Invasive Rank Reasons Summary is “This garden escape is rare [sic rarely] know [sic known] to spread into conservation areas. It most often persists from former cultivation and sometimes can be found in open disturbed woodlands. It is escaped throughout the United States, and specifically can become a dominant and sometimes monotypic understory in the northeastern US.” (reference at bottom).
Zone: 4 to 8
Light: All exposures but does best in part shade
Soil type: Well-drained with abundant organic matter; adaptable to less-than-ideal soils but plants are less thrifty
Common periwinkle can be used wherever an evergreen low-growing ground cover is appropriate.
No special care is needed for common periwinkle. There are a few serious fungal problems with this species, thus a fungicide application may be necessary. These problems are usually associated with prolonged periods or rain/humidity. Because plants are relatively short, weed infestation may be a problem.
There are many cultivars (more than 30) that vary in flower color and foliage color. Some of the more popular cultivars are:
‘Alba’ white flowers
‘Atropurpurea’ large deep plum-purple flowers
‘Bowles’ (‘Bowles Variety’) large lavender-blue flowers ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ white flowers with smaller than typical leaves ‘Golden’ white flowers with yellow-margined leaves ‘Sterling Silver’ pale violet- blue flowers with cream variegation
NatureServe – Vinca minor
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law.
October 31, 2018