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How to Grow Vinca Vines

Vinca (Vinca major), commonly called bigleaf periwinkle, big periwinkle or blue buttons, is a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow evergreen groundcover hardy in U. S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9. Its aggressive growth habit and adaptability to a wide variety of environmental conditions make it both beloved and hated by gardeners. Vinca vines can grow to nearly indefinite lengths, producing newly rooted plants anywhere the stem nodes touch the ground.

It is an effective groundcover plant for difficult-to-cover areas. Glossy, green stems produce bright blue single flowers in early spring and sporadically throughout the summer depending on the amount of sunlight.

Tip

Two other types of periwinkle are often confused with Vinca major: Vinca minor, a shade-loving, smaller cousin and Catharanthus roseus, summer-flowering Vinca.

Propagation

Snip off a few vines of established periwinkle or pull up newly rooted plants.

Plant cuttings in a small pot of well-drained, moist potting soil and place them in a shady place outside. When cuttings have rooted, transplant them to desired area spacing them about 18 inches apart to allow for spread.

Keep new cuttings or newly transplanted plants well-watered.

Growing Requirements

Moisture

Big Periwinkle will thrive in all types of soils but does best in rich, moist soil. When planted in loose or dry soil, additional watering may be required.

Sun

Full sun locations will produce more flowers but if rapid groundcover is the goal, more vines are produced in shady sites.

Fertilizer

Vinca doesn't require a regular fertilization routine for abundant growth. Fertilize only when needed, preferably in the spring. Apply a complete granular fertilizer like 10-10-10 at a rate of 6 to 8 pounds per 1000 square feet or area. Sprinkle the fertilizer among the plants at the specified rate and water in thoroughly.

Best Uses

Vinca fits in best in large areas as it quickly outgrows smaller spaces. Even then, pinching back new growth helps keep it in bounds.

  • Slopes: Its generous growth habit and tolerance makes it an ideal plant for erosion control on hard-to-manage inclines.

  • Under Trees: Vinca does well in the dappled sunlight underneath trees. The foliage is not as dense as some other groundcovers so other plants, such as bulbs or specimen plants, can be grown with the vines.

  • Hanging baskets and planters: Growing in hanging baskets or planters allows the glossy foliage to cascade over the edge for a graceful effect.

  • Trellising: Vinca is technically a ground cover and not a true vine but can be trained on a trellis or fence with some effort. Vinca cannot naturally attach itself to a trellis so it must be tied up manually and its aggressive growth curtailed frequently. Pinch back new growth for a bushier appearance and to keep it from outgrowing its trellis.

Cultivars

  • The cultivar Vinca major 'alba' produces white flowers.

  • 'Oxyloba' features deep purple flowers.

  • Vinca major 'variegata' is grown for the creamy, white splotches on its light green leaves.

Warning

Vinca major is considered to be invasive in the southeastern United States, California, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico. It easily escapes cultivation through the disposal of yard waste and forms thick root mats that exclude native vegetation along streambanks and in areas with shady, moist soils.

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