Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Phenology: Vincas

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. Photo by Cohdra at

Vinca, also known as pervenche, periwinkle, and occasionally myrtle, is one of those wonderful wild flowers that will replace boring Bermuda grass in your lawn or garden. The names "myrtle" and "periwinkle" are also used to refer to different things, so I call these flowers vincas.

There are different species in this family. The popular ones, V. major and V. minor, are not native to North America but have naturalized well. Photos of flowers that look just like mine (only they're taken with better cameras) are shown on various web pages that provide information about Vinca minor, like these:

This plant actually has its own web site:

Vincas have some medicinal value due to high levels of phytochemicals that can be toxic, but due to this potential toxicity I've never tried using mine as an herb.

Vincas start blooming at the time when most other flowers are yellow...daffodils, dandelions, celandine, buttercups, those regrettable Bidens..and although they can also be pink, red, or white, mine are a pleasing shade of purplish-blue, not unlike the irises. In years when the daffodils bloom well, the vincas provide a nice color contrast around them.

They are a hardy plant, easy to grow and hard to kill. If you plant vincas as a border around a grassy lawn, you probably won't have to mow and fertilize grass for very long. Vincas don't need fertilizing. They'll tolerate the natural "mulch" shed by taller bushes and trees, but they'll also tolerate not having it. They like almost any kind of soil or climate conditions, within reason, and about all the care they require is cutting back before they invade the space of other plants you want to keep.