Vinca is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. The English name periwinkle is shared with the related genus Catharanthus. Vinca (Catharanthus roseus) is a perennial in USDA zones 9 t0 11 but is grown as an annual in most regions. Foliage is dark green and shiny with five petal blooms. This plant is available in many shades including red, purple, white, pink, and lavender. Some varieties have a light or dark pink center. Depending on the variety, Vincas grow 6-8 Inches tall with a width of 22-25 Inches. Thriving in full sun to partial shade, Vinca plants are great for garden borders, edging, ground cover or bedding plants, containers or window boxes.
Plant Vinca when evening temperatures are at least 60 degrees, typically in mid May. This plant is heat and drought tolerant and makes a great plant for warmer parts of a garden area. Plant Vinca in average soil in a full sun to partial shade location. Space the plants 12-15 inches apart. Water well after planting. After that, weekly watering is all the plant needs. Mulch around the plants to help retain moisture. Use a general purpose fertilizer once or twice a season.
Vincas prefer their soil to be on the drier side. Water only when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Between rainfall and sprinklers, one inch of weather per week is recommended. Watering too much can be a common problem with Vincas. Water this plant early in the mornings to allow for the foliage to dry out during the day. This will help to prevent fungal disease and leaf spot.
At planting time, apply compost to the soil or a slow-release fertilizer. After that, feed the plants once a month with a 10-10-10 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium water-soluble fertilizer. Avoid using nitrogen rich fertilizers as this can produce too much leaf production with sparse flower production. Container grown Vinca will need more frequent feedings due to nutrients leaching from the soil as water drains. Water well after applying fertilizers.
Vincas are a self-cleaning plant, which means that deadheading is not necessary. If you would like a fuller look to the plant, you can pinch the plant back. Pinching means to remove new growth at the tips of the branches so the plant does not become leggy.
Caring For Vinca in Pots
Vincas are great for raised beds, window boxes or containers. Use a well-draining potting soil. Be sure that the container has drainage holes, as wet soil can cause root rot. Vinca is drought tolerant. Water only when the top inch of soil feels dry. Space the plants far enough apart to allow for 8-12 inches of space at maturity. Place the container in an area that can get full sun to partial shade. Apply a liquid fertilizer twice a month, watering well after each application.
Winter Care for Vinca
Container Vincas can be brought indoors for the cold weather months. Be sure that your Vinca has a warm sunny place in the home. WAter only when the soil feels dry one inch down.