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Periwinkle Flower Plants

By Jenny Green

Lavender-blue flowers peeking out from evergreen leaves on low, trailing stems are the decorative features of periwinkle (Vinca minor). A perennial plant in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, periwinkle is also called vinca, creeping myrtle, common periwinkle and lesser periwinkle. In some areas of the United States, periwinkle is invasive. Deer usually avoid this plant.

Garden Uses

Periwinkle is a useful plant in gardens with challenging growing conditions. Tolerating deep shade, dry soil, shallow, rocky soil, erosion and drought, periwinkle grows where many plants struggle to survive.

Grow periwinkle as a ground-cover plant in shady areas, such as under trees, and on slopes and banks, where it controls soil erosion. Another option for using periwinkle as a ground cover is in bulb beds, where its loose habit allows bulb shoots to poke upward. Periwinkle also grows well in containers with bottom drainage holes and in sunny spots indoors and outdoors.

Growing Conditions

Good growing conditions for periwinkle include organically rich, freely draining soil and sunny or partially shaded spots. This plant grows in full shade and almost any soil. For the fastest growth and most flowers, grow periwinkle in sunny spots and moist soil.

Periwinkle Varieties

Cultivars of periwinkle offer different flower and leaf colors from the species plant. Periwinkle ‘Bowles’ Variety’ (Vinca minor ‘Bowles’ Variety’) features deep-blue flowers on deep-green foliage. Hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9, ‘Bowles’ Variety’ attracts butterflies and hummingbirds but is disliked by rabbits and deer. This cultivar grows 4 to 6 inches tall and 18 to 23 inches wide.

Periwinkle 'Honeydew' (Vinca minor 'Honeydew') is named for its yellow-green leaves, which provide a contrast to its 1-inch-wide, lavender-blue flowers. 'Honeydew' forms dense mounds up to 6 inches tall. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8.

Plant Toxicity

Periwinkle is poisonous to some animals and to humans. Cats and dogs become ill from eating periwinkle. Symptoms of poisoning include tremors, seizures, lack of coordination and depression. In severe cases, eating periwinkle can cause coma and death in cats and dogs.

If eaten, periwinkle causes stomach upsets in people.


About the Author


A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.