Vinca minor - Friend or Foe?
B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist,
Department of Horticulture , Purdue University
Vinca minor, more likely to be known as periwinkle, creeping
myrtle, or just myrtle is a commonly used, trailing, mat-forming
evergreen ground cover. This plant is not only grown for its
attractive shiny foliage, but the common name perfectly describes
the pretty bloom color. The flowers are most numerous in mid
spring, but plants will re-bloom sporadically throughout the
growing season. There are some cultivars selected for different
bloom color and variegated foliage.
The plant grows to about 6 inches tall and spreads quickly by
branches rooting everywhere they remain in contact with moist
soil. Periwinkle is widely adapted and hardy throughout Indiana.
Though it prefers rich, moist, fertile soil and partial shade,
it will tolerate poor, dry soils and sunny exposures.
However, those same characteristics that make this plant so
effective as a ground cover also contribute to it becoming an
invasive plant. And the conditions that it particularly thrives
in (rich, moist soil and shade) just happens to describe many
natural woodland areas. Because of this potential to out compete
native plants in natural areas, the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources recommends that plantings should be restricted to areas
bordered by sidewalks, lawn, and other confined places.