Vinca (Catharanthus roseus), also known as Madagascar periwinkle, is one of the top-selling bedding plants in the U.S., according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Its popularity is due to its long-blooming habit and wide variety of colors and sizes. Grow dwarf vinca varieties as a ground cover, or use as a border plant or in hanging baskets.
Vincas are perennial plants often grown as annuals. They are bushy plants, but not particularly dense. Vincas grow 1 1/2 -to-2 feet in height with 2-foot spread. They have simple, oblong, glossy green leaves and five-petaled, 1 ½-inch flowers. Vinca's colors vary by cultivar in shades of pink, purple, red, salmon or white.
Light and Climate
Vincas flower spring to fall, and prefer sun to partial shade. Vincas are tropical plants---tender perennials hardy only in USDA zones 9b through 11, and commonly grown as annual bedding landscape plants. In very hot weather, vincas may establish poorly, according to University of Florida extension. However, as a ground cover, vincas are particularly heat tolerant.
Soil and Fertilization
Grow vincas in various soils: clay, sand, acidic, slightly alkaline or loam. Vincas are resistant to parched, dry conditions once established. A slow-release fertilizer applied in the spring may be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Plant vincas 12 to 18 inches apart.
Propagate vincas by seed or stem cutting at any time during the growing season. Vinca seeds germinate at temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees F. Remove a small portion of stem containing a leaf and place the cut end into a small container of moist potting soil. Cover the pot loosely with a clear bag to increase humidity and place it in a protected location away from direct sun. Keep the cuttings moist until roots develop.
Diseases of vincas include Fusarium wilt, blight, canker and fungal leaf spots. Reduce disease problems by watering early in the day so water has a chance to evaporate and not remain on foliage for extended periods. Infected plants should be removed from the landscape and destroyed. Leaf spots caused by fungi are usually harmless, according to University of Florida extension. Your local county extension office is a good source of information regarding plant disease identification and management.