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Vinca

Vinca (vin-kuh) Periwinkle, Apocynaceae Family. Trailing or creeping herbs that are sometimes evergreen, sometimes shrubby. Vinca are primarily from the warmer regions of Europe and Asia. Primarily ground covers, they grow to 2 or 3 feet long, and do best with some shade. They require a great deal of moisture and if allowed to dry out, they will quickly die. They have opposite leaves and small, funnel-shaped flowers. A sprinkling of fertilizer in early spring, at the same time it is sheared back to remove any growth that may have winter-burn, promotes dense, healthy new shoots.

Enjoy vinca's colorful blooms from spring through fall. The blue, purple, or white flowers provide a colorful accent to the shiny, green foliage. This easy, adaptable groundcover tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Note: It can also grow very quickly -- to the point some gardeners call it invasive.

Vinca spreads by creeping across the ground and rooting at each node that touches the surface. This makes it an excellent plant to use for erosion control on slopes. Once established, it is a low-maintenance plant.

Easy-to-grow in any well-drained soil, but grow best in fertile, loamy soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Good low maintenance lawn alternative as it tolerates some foot traffic. Excellent for slopes or low-maintenance cover, especially in areas requiring erosion control. Mow in the fall for fresh foliage. Also a great plant for hanging containers or window boxes which allow the glossy foliage to cascade over the sides. Deer and rabbit resistant.

Vinca major and Vinca minor are nearly identical except for leaf shape and flower size. Vinca major has broader leaves with longer hairs on the petioles, larger flowers, and is less cold hardy. Both are low maintenance and often used for controlling soil erosion on shady slopes.

PLANTING: Space 6 to 12 inches apart. Choose a site in partial shade, though the Vincas will tolerate deeper shade; average garden soil will do.
MAINTENANCE: Keep plants well watered during periods of drought. A balanced fertilizer applied in the spring will encourage optimum growth.

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