Also known as periwinkle or myrtle, vinca minor is an evergreen ground cover with glossy foliage and lavender flowers in spring. Since its arrival from Europe in the 1700s, vinca minor has made itself at home in North America, earning an invasive label in some areas. Fortunately, it can be controlled in cultivation by pruning and its hybrids are more sedate in growth habit. Vinca minor hybrids prefer moist soil and partial sun as does their parent, most grow 6 to 8 inches tall and are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 9.
Vinca minor "Bowles Variety"
Vinca minor "Bowles Variety" is similar in appearance to its parent species, although its lavender flowers and individual leaves are larger, and its habit is clump-forming. As this type is also slower-growing, you may opt to obtain more plants and to plant them closer together than you would other vinca varieties. According to the University of Connecticut Extension, "Bowles Variety" vinca is the most popular of the hybrids.
Vinca minor "Atropupurea"
Also known as the wine vinca, Vinca minor "Atropurpurea" has large burgundy flowers that create a different effect than the typical lavender blue of its parent. The blooming period of this variety is longer than the species, running from April until flowers become sporadic in September. The wine vinca is vining, but not invasive, according to Bellevue Botanical Garden in Bellevue, Washington. With a spread of only 12 inches, this variety is a good choice for the front of the border or at the base of shrubs.
Vinca minor "Miss Jekyll"
Vinca minor "Miss Jekyll" is a white vinca named for the early 20th century English landscape designer, Gertrude Jekyll, who grew the plant in her garden. It is a desirable variety with a tidy habit and small, white flowers that bloom in spring. In a "New York Times" column, Allen Lacy writes that he has grown this variety for 10 years and it has barely spread 8 feet. Unlike other vinca minor varieties, "Miss Jekyll" prefers full sun.
Vinca minor "Alba"
A white-flowered form, Vinca minor "Alba" is smaller in leaf and flower size than vinca minor. It is a spring-bloomer but does not flower as prolifically as the other types. "Alba Plena" is a double-flowered white variety which is rarely found commercially.
Vinca minor "Ralph Shugert"
According to the University of Connecticut Extension, Vinca minor "Ralph Shugert" has many of the attributes of the "Bowles Variety" except for the white margins around the edges of its leaves. Leonard Perry of the University of Vermont describes the flower color of "Ralph Shugert" as sky-blue, contrasting with the lavender of other varieties. This is a patented variety and cannot be propagated without permission.
Vinca minor "Sterling Silver"
Vinca minor "Sterling Silver" is a another variegated variety but with a narrower strip of white around its leaf edge than "Ralph Shugert" and dark-blue flowers.
Vinca minor "Aureovariegata"
Several varieties with gold or yellow variegated foliage are available commercially. Vinca minor "Aureovariegata" has a yellow edge on each leaf and blue flowers. It is a trailing variety but not an aggressive grower, making it ideal for small areas.
Vinca minor "Illumination"
Vinca minor "Illumination" is a striking new variety that has a large yellow area in the center of each leaf with a narrow strip of green on the edges. It grows vigorously, to 30 feet, yet still is useful in containers, according to Fine Gardening online. Another asset of "Illumination" is its long flowering time from April to fall.
Vinca minor "Blue and Gold"
Sunny Border Nurseries, a wholesale nursery in Connecticut, offers Vinca minor "Blue and Gold," a yellow and green variety with blue flowers.
Vinca minor "Golden"
Vinca minor "Golden" is a white-flowering form with a yellow and green variegation.
Vinca minor "Double Purple"
Sunny Border Nurseries offers Vinca minor "Double Purple," a double variety with large purple flowers.
Vinca minor "Moonlit"
Vinca minor "Moonlit" is a less hardy variety with double lavender flowers and yellow variegation.