With its trailing habit, hardiness and evergreen nature, the perennial vinca major, or periwinkle, offers quite a few benefits for any gardener. It is used extensively as a ground cover in areas that do not have harsh winters and is also used frequently as a container plant. Requiring less care than vinca minor, vinca major grows well in shade but will also do well in sun if given plenty of water.
Benefits as a Ground Cover
Vinca major is most popular as a ground cover, growing quickly through long trailing stems which root as they spread, forming a dense mat of foliage. This spreading habit allows it to cover lots of ground quickly and makes it easy for the gardener to pull up pieces for transplanting. As a ground cover, vinca major stays green throughout the year and holds the soil in place to prevent erosion. It requires little to no maintenance beyond watering and is a good choice for slopes that are hard to access.
Benefits as a Trailing Plant
Spilling over the edges of containers with long, trailing stems, the flowers and oval, dark green, shiny leaves of vinca major are attractive in large or small containers, hanging baskets or window boxes. The 1- to 2-inch springtime flowers bloom in either a lavender-blue periwinkle color or in an attractive white variegated color. Although it is hardy in most winter areas, vinca major may not survive in very cold winters.
Benefits in a Garden Bed
Vinca major can cover bare space in a flower bed and is an excellent companion plant for spring bulbs such as tulips or daffodils, as it can cover the spent leaves of those plants after they finish blooming. The foliage of vinca major can grow into mounded forms up to 14 inches tall or can be trimmed back to lower heights to fit in well in any garden design. Either the large yellow-white leaves of the variegated variety or the dark green variety provide good color contrast for many other plants.
Easy Care Benefits
Vinca major is a tough plant that is easy to grow in average, well-drained soil with periodic watering. It can be left alone or cut now and then to encourage fresh growth or to foster a mounding shape. It has few serious insect problems or diseases. If left unattended, vinca can grow over onto pathways and lawns, but it is easily removed as its stems are not rooted deeply.