Content Detail

Common periwinkle is one of the most widely used landscaping ground covers, although it is escaping cultivation into natural areas and is now invasive in some areas.

  • Family (English) Dogbane
  • Family (botanic) Apocynaceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Blue, Purple, White
  • Shape or form Creeping
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate

Size and method of spreading:

Common periwinkle is low-growing three to six inches high trailing-rooting ground cover. Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system. These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil. New shoots will be formed at the point where rooting occurs.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to Europe and Asia.

Leaf description:

The simple, opposite leaves are evergreen. They are oval with a very glossy appearance and entire margins.

Flower description:

The flowers are tubular with a flat face and are blue to lavender-blue. They have five petals and are borne singly.. The heaviest flowering occurs in spring, but it can sporadically flower throughout the growing season.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit of periwinkle are small, dry follicles and are not ornamentally important.

Plant care:

This ground cover is often planted in shady sites, but it can also be grown in full sun. Plants grown in full sun can suffer winter damage to their evergreen leaves. Periwinkle does well in soils ranging from fairly acidic to slightly alkaline, but avoid planting it in wet sites.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

Stem blights and root rots can occur and are more common in plantings that are overgrown or poorly maintained. It is resistant to deer.

Blue and Gold common periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Blue and Gold’):

Foliage is variegated, green and gold and flowers are blue.

Bowles common periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Bowles’):

This cultivar flowers very profusely. It may be sold under the name ‘La Grave’.

Dart’s Blue common periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Dart’s Blue’):

Flowers are more blue in color and it is resistance to stem rot.

Purple-flowered common periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Atropurpurea’):

The larger flowers are dark violet-purple.

Ralph Shugert common periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Ralph Shugert’):

Leaves are edged in creamy white.

Sterling Silver common periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Sterling Silver’):

Leaves are edged in creamy white.

White-flowered common periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Alba’): 

It produces white flowers and growth is less vigorous than that of the species.

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