Periwinkle Vinca Major Covers a Lot of Ground

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periwinkle major

Periwinkle: Vinca Major, a sea of knee-high green2010_04_28_Blog_vinca_major_pot

I’d have to say the periwinkle Vinca major saves me about a bazillion hours of weeding each summer, smothering out just about any weed bold enough to insist on staking a claim. If periwinkle can easily engulf a pot topping 30 inches (above), dandelions don’t stand a chance of permanent residency.

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While the individual  flowers are real lookers, like little blue polka dots floating on a sea of green, the real standout on this plant is its foilage. Lush, bullet-proof and evergreen, Vinca major forms a knee-high carpet wherever it’s planted (at least in the Pacific Northwest).

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I maintain its boundaries simply by mowing. Above, periwinkle creates a cool oasis in the understory in an area that would be too labor-intensive to hand weed and maintain.

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Where the periwinkle meets the drive, it stays put and frames an all-season border around my cedars, fir and vine maples.

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When I wanted a new path to the vegetable garden, I ran the mower through the middle of the periwinkle at the top mowing height and then lowered it with each repeat pass. After a couple weeks of doing this, it stopped growing in the path and left me a handsome serpentine walk to my lower garden–a welcomed new route as prior to this I’d lose Boz and Gracie beneath the leafy waves.

Vinca major also has a tamer vining brother, Vinca minor, which may be better suited to smaller areas or urban gardens.

In the words of one of my favorite garden writers, Beverley Nichols, “I earnestly suggest that you become a periwinklist without delay.”

12 COMMENTS

  1. I am most impressed by the way it seems to pay attention to the mowing. The path is wonderful. I have begun to think weeding is really silly — I have a postage size space that could use some cover. Do you think the vinca minor would work?

  2. Yep Renae, vinca minor is a good ground cover in small areas. It has more of a vining habit. Just stay away from St. John’s wort; it is one ugly ground cover in my opinion–something reserved for fast-food drive-in and gas station plantings.

  3. Hi, I wanted a dark green flowering ground cover and it looks like the vinca would work but apparently it grows quite tall– do you think it would still maintain its’ attractiveness if I trim it to stay low?

  4. Hi Tammy, Vinca Minor would work for you as it remains a low ground cover.

    Vinca Major wouldn’t do well for you as it stands up about 2 feet tall. It does not like to be pruned.

  5. We have vinca in almost all of our flower beds and have enjoyed it for several years. However, we noticed today that in some areas it is browning. Is this because we have put it in sunny areas? Thank you for your reply

  6. will vinca minor smother grass, or will the grass smother vinca, how much will one plant grow in a year, and would it be any good as a bank cover that hasnt got great quality soil, it just covered in long grass and is difficult to strim

  7. Vinca can smother grass but it helps to mow the grass very short next to the approaching vinca. If newly planted vinca it’s best to over turn the grass and break up soil. Vinca minor tends to act more like a vine, and vinca major like a ground cover. As far as a bank cover, it would likely work but I think there are better options out there with a little research.

  8. I live west of Loveland, Colorado and want to put Vinca Major on a stubborn hillside (12′ x 30′). Can you tell me how many plants I would need, plus the cost. Also, we have a Grass Hopper infestation here, will they attack the Vinca? I look forward to your answer, Thank you, Wayne

    • Hi Wayne, I’d check with your local nurseries or gardening friends first. I’m not sure Vinca Major could hold up to you winters and hot summers. The vinca major I grow out in the open suffers in the summer from lack of water. I’ve found, it really performs best in filter shade. You may want to go with vinca minor as it vines and creates more of a matted carpet to hold the bank. Check to see if there’s a master gardener group in Loveland, where volunteers answer gardening questions. Usually your local library or garden club would know or local county extension. Sorry Wayne, but I’m not well versed in high elevation, Rocky Mountain plant options, but your local nursery folk should be.

  9. I have vinca minor ground cover that was planted years ago (at least 8) on the front of my house. Recently, I have noticed some kind of invasive weed spreading among the vinca with scalloped leaves and tiny purple flowers. Is there any way to kill it with weed killer without killing the vinca? My vinca is so dense I’m not sure I could get this weed by hand.

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