Vinca Major Ground Cover

Vinca Major Ground Cover | Big Leaf Periwinkle –

Vinca Major is the perfect solution for those difficult to grow areas to solve erosion problems such as hillsides, drainage ditches, or grass-less areas. Vinca is a fast growing ground cover with large green foliage and large pretty vinca blue flowers.

Big Leaf Periwinkle or vinca major grows to 12 inches in height but soon falls over to spread where it roots at the leaf nodes as it covers the ground with its shiny green foliage. Periwinkle will flower profusely in the spring with a big show and then sporadically throughout the summer.

Note: Because of its larger leaves and extremely aggressive growing habit, vinca major will cover the area planted faster than most any other ground cover. We do not recommend this plant as a ground cover for gardens or landscaped areas. It will take over an area quickly.

Wondering about the differences between vinca minor and vinca major? Learn about them on our blog post Vinca minor vs Vinca Major.

How to plant vinca:

Vinca Major is easy to plant and easy to grow. Vinca thrives in almost any soil, quickly forming a medium textured evergreen ground cover. Spaced on 18″ centers, big periwinkle should provide completed coverage in one year unless the site is very dry.

Light: Full sun to partial shade. Sunnier positions result in more flowers and shadier positions result in more ground covering foliage.

Moisture: Vinca Major tolerates dry soils but grows best in rich, moist soils. In full sun or in very loose soils it will need more frequent watering.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 – 9.

Plant spacing’s for bare root: 18 inches apart. 150 plants will cover 225 square feet.

For larger landscape jobs, plant bare root plants and save money. Bare root plants are professionally packaged with just the right amount of moisture to insure fresh delivery.

Periwinkle Plants

Common Periwinkle (Vinca Minor)- Vinca minor L.

First brought to North America in the 1700s, this native European groundcover is still a popular ornamental. A low-growing vine with small glossy leaves, common periwinkle (also known as Vinca Minor) produces tiny, five-petaled blossoms that range from white to periwinkle-blue. These blooms appear throughout the spring, summer, and early fall, providing season-long interest. The foliage is most commonly a deep green, but variegated cultivars do exist as well. Found throughout North America, common periwinkle is evergreen in mild climates and perennial, even where winters are snowy and harsh. It is a vigorous grower; as its sporadic blossoms do not typically produce viable seeds, common periwinkle spreads instead through underground rhizomes. The slender vines form a dense mat of lush foliage, which requires no clipping, pruning, or fertilizer to flourish. This makes common periwinkle a first erosion-control planting on banks and shaded areas where other plants would do poorly. Though it will tolerate occasional traffic, Vinca Minor is not well suited to high-traffic areas such as yards or walkways. It is well adapted to a variety of soils, thriving in slightly acidic to alkaline environments and well- to poorly-drained grounds. Though it prefers at least partial shade, common periwinkle will grow well even in full sun provided it receives adequate watering. Common periwinkle is so adaptable and vigorous that in some parts of the U.S. and Canada, it has become an invasive species, crowding out native plants in forests and along waterways. For this reason, care should be taken in choosing a location for these plants. Opt for sites where the spreading vines can easily be controlled by cutting or edging, since applying herbicides can damage the plants’ root network and kill off those meant to be preserved as well as the overgrowth.

Vinca Minor periwinkle plants

The Vinca Minor, known to most of us as the lesser, or dwarf, periwinkle, is a common garden plant, found throughout central and southern Europe, with a growing zone that extends west to Portugal and east to the Caucasus and Turkey. In North America, where it is not a native plant but has been cultivated, the Vinca Minor is usually referred to as a creeping myrtle. It is a flowering shrub that spreads, or creeps, along the ground, putting down colonies of roots along its path. While the Vinca Minor has been known to edge up available structures to heights of 15 or 16 feet, it is not known for its climbing. The plant is generally found in temperate zones, usually as garden ground cover, where it is useful for choking out unwanted weed growth and providing a green backdrop throughout the year. The evergreen leaves of the Vinca Minor, elliptical in shape, grow to a length of 1 to 2 inches, and width of about 1 inch. The leaves have a pleasant sheen and thick texture. Through spring and up until midsummer, sometimes even into early fall, the plant produces a gentle, violet flower. The flower, just over an inch in diameter, is usually solitary with five petals. The Vinca Minor’s presence in North America stems mainly from the flower’s common usage at graves and cemeteries across the American South. Its presence in that region today is still a standard indicator of an unmarked burial site. Vinca Minor isn’t just known for its looks: it has brains too, or, at the very least, it helps the human brain. The plant’s medicinal value is derived from the presence of 50 different alkaloids, though most commonly harvested for vincamine. Found in the leaves of the plant, and comprising up to 65% of the Vinca Minor’s alkaloid composition, vincamine is marketed as the nootropic, Oxybral SR. Nootropics are known as smart drugs, thought to combat aging and enhance cognitive processing.

Buy periwinkle plants online at Wholesale Nursery Co

Vinca Periwinkle Vine

Periwinkle – Vinca Minor

Periwinkle, or vinca vine, is an exceptional and classic ground cover, excellent for controlling erosion on embankments and hillsides. Hardy in Zones 4-8, it is drought resistant and easy to grow. Periwinkle grows best in acidic soil in partial shade and needs good drainage, but can adapt to a variety of conditions. This spreading vine gets its name from the beautiful periwinkle blue flowers that dot the glossy green foliage in spring. It reaches four inches in height, but one plant may spread several feet across. An evergreen perennial, periwinkle, is a hardy plant that is beautiful underneath trees where grass may be difficult to grow. It is deer and rabbit resistant and will provide years of beauty naturalized in woodland areas, as a ground cover, or even as a container plant.

Vinca minor Ground Cover

Vinca minor For Sale –

Vinca, common name periwinkle, is one of the faster growing ground cover plants for covering large areas. It produces soft periwinkle blue flowers sproadically over early Spring to Summer. Also called, Creeping periwinkle, vinca is a trailing ground cover vine that grows low to the ground with a good matting habit that is evergreen.

Ground cover periwinkle produces soft blue vinca flowers and are shade loving plants. Once established are drought resistant ground cover plants. Plants are fast growing for more rapid coverage.

What are the differences between vinca minor and vinca major? Check out our blog post Vinca minor vs Vinca Major.

Buy vinca online at anytime – Plants ship year round.

Adaptable to most any soil, vinca minor prefers fairly good soil and is easier to control than many other creeping ground cover plants. Also referred to as Trailing Periwinkle, Creeping Periwinkle or Creeping Myrtle evergreen groundcover plants. As with many fast growing plants, vinca can be invasive if not monitored. With a little attention and care, it can be grown safely in most landscape settings.

Plant spacing for bare root vinca minor: 12 inches apart. 100 plants will cover 100 square feet.

For larger landscape jobs or resale, buy bare root vinca wholesale and save. Best vinca to buy online.

Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained, but tolerates a wide range of soils, even poor and sandy/dry if regularly watered during times of drought.
Light: Sun tolerant in cool northern zones. In hot summer areas, plant in dappled to deep shade.
Water: Best with regular water – weekly, or more often in extreme heat. Tolerates dry shade once plants are established.
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart, which is what most gardeners do. In two to three years, the Vinca will completely cover the planting bed. Plant 6″ apart and by the end of the first year the bed will be completely covered.
Fertilizing: Very adaptable and can survive in any well-drained soil. Mulch in between the plants when first planting. This is important to not only retain water, but to also keep the weeds out. After the Vinca minor fill in the area, you will not need to mulch any more.
Winterizing: Add at least 4 inches of loose organic mulch, such as leaf compost in November to winterize your vinca. For greater protection from frost, and snow, completely cover the foliage in 5 to 6 inches of loose leaves.
Maintenance & Pruning: Stems root into the ground readily, and the new plants that form may be easily moved to a new location in spring or early fall. Mowing the patch low after blooming every couple of years will help to keep it thick and weed resistant.

Variegated Vinca Vine – Love It Or Hate It?

I seem to have a love-hate relationship with the variegated vinca vine. I know its invasive tendencies, but I still admire it for its hardiness, its striking blue-purple flowers, and its lovely variegated foliage.


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Variegated Greater Periwinkle (Vinca major ‘Variegata’)
Posted by Sharon

Because of its intense blue flowers and leaf variegation, I have grownVinca major ‘Variegata’ (also called bigleaf periwinkle) in containers for many years. but it is sometimes tricky to keep this plant containerized, given the fact that it will take root anywhere it touches the ground. The vine is frequently used for erosion control in large areas where there is shade or partial shade, and it has escaped cultivation in many places.
Even though it has been declared an invasive species in California and other states, it is not invasive in all areas where it grows. Just as many other non-native plants, its ability to invade an area is determined by location and planting situation. In some parts of the country, vinca vine has escaped cultivation and invaded natural woodland areas. In other parts of the country, it has remained an aggressively spreading, shade-loving groundcover that can be controlled by cutting back the new shoot growth every year or by mowing over the area.
Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Ralph Shugert’)
Posted by Angelbee
Greater Periwinkle (Vinca major ‘Wojo’s Jem’)
Posted by Paul2032

Periwinkle (Vinca minor ‘Illumination’)
Posted by Paul2032
Vinca minor ‘Blue and Gold’
Posted by Skiekitty

Some ideas for replacing vinca vine with natives in a large area or on a slope include native grasses, such as Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama). These attractive grasses are short and do not require mowing.
Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

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Name: Vinca major L.

Family: Apocynaceae, the Dogbane Family

Common Names: Greater periwinkle, large periwinkle, bigleaf periwinkle, large leaved periwinkle, blue periwinkle, Greek periwinkle. It is often simply called periwinkle or myrtle (1,2,5,8,14,18).

Etymology: The generic name, Vinca, is short for the ancient name given by Pliny, Vincaperivinca. Common names for the genus in Italian (pervinca) and French (pervenche) resemble the ancient name. The species name, major, means “larger” (2).

Botanical synonyms: Vinca grandiflora Salisb. (3).

Quick Notable Features (2,12):
¬ Simple, opposite, ovate leaves with ciliate margins and subcordate bases
¬ Perfect, radially symmetric, violet flowers with ciliate calyx lobes, and a pinwheel-like corolla
¬ Each flower produces 2 follicled fruits, 2.5-5cm long

Plant Height: Up to 1-2m tall (2,12).

Most Likely Confused with: Vinca minor, Vincetoxicum louiseae, Vincetoxicum rossicum, Lonicera ssp., and Campanula ssp.

Habitat Preference: The greater periwinkle grows in sandy to heavy clay soils, moist to dry, and shaded or full sun (although it prefers shaded areas). In the United States, it usually escapes from cultivation to roadsides, edges of woods, and along rivers (2,10,11).

Geographic Distribution in Michigan: The greater periwinkle was only recently (2009) collected escaped from cultivation in Grand Traverse and Ottawa counties (1).

Known Elevational Distribution: Vinca major can grow from low to high elevations and was collected at 6500m above sea level in Puebla, Mexico (3).

Vegetative Plant Description: V. major is perennial, evergreen, trailing or scrambling, and mostly herbaceous (with a woody caudex). The dark green stems produce milky sap. The stems root at the nodes and apex. The nearly glabrous petioles are short (less than 2.5cm long) and glandular; stipules are absent. The pinnately-veined opposite leaves are 4-ranked and simple, ovate to broad ovate, with a cordate to subcordate base and acute apex. Each ovate leaf is 2-9cm long and 2-6cm broad (broadest near the base), entire margined, ciliate (cilia to 1mm long), covered by a waxy coat (1,2,11,12,16,17).

Climbing Mechanism: V. major scrambles over adjacent vegetation or structures (6). No tendrils, or twining apices are noted in the literature.

Flower Description: Axillary flowers (2.5-5cm across) of the greater periwinkle are solitary, perfect, and actinomorphic. The pedicels are 3-5cm long. The 5 calyx lobes are acuminate, marginally ciliate, 1-1.5cm long, and glandless. The blue to violet (rarely white) corolla is 5-parted, salver-form, with asymmetrical petals twisted like a pinwheel, each 1.2-1.5cm long. The 5 apically puberulent stamens are adnate to the throat of the corolla, alternating with the corolla lobes; the filaments are distinct. The two ovaries are superior, unfused and alternate with two nectaries. The styles and stigmas however are fused. The style (ca. 1.5cm long) is filiform with a hairy capitate stigma (2,4,12,16,17,18).

Flowering Time: In the Central and Northeastern U.S., V. major flowers from April-May (2).

Pollinator: The flowers of V. major have paired nectaries that attract bees, hawkmoths, and other insects to pollinate them (4,10,11,13).

Fruit Type and Description: Each flower produces two short-cylindrical follicles (2.5-5cm long) that taper at the apex. When mature, each follicle dries and opens, releasing 3-5 seeds (2,12).

Seed Description: The seeds of V. major are glabrous: no coma (tuft of hairs) is produced, as is common among Apocynaceae. The seed has a rough surface and is 0.7-1cm long and about 0.2cm wide (2,11,12, see seed image).

Dispersal Syndrome: The follicles open to expose the seeds, and no specific dispersal method was found. In California, the seeds rarely mature. The greater periwinkle reproduces vegetatively by stolons that root at the tips and nodes. Additionally, broken stems can be carried by water and take root (11,12,14,17).

Distinguished by: Vinca minor appears like a smaller version of V. major, yet bears a few distinctive features. V. minor has a narrow, not semi-cordate, leaf base; the leaf is broadest in the middle; the leaf and calyx margins are glabrous; and the pedicel is shorter (only 1-1.5cm long). Vincetoxicum louiseae and Vincetoxicum rossicum are not evergreen like V. major, the leaves bases are rounded, and the seeds bear a coma. Vincetoxicum louiseae leaf margins are not ciliate, and the abaxial surface is pubescent. Further, the inflorescence bears 4-12 dark purple flowers, but only one violet flower in V. major. Vincetoxicum rossicum inflorescences bear 5-20 pinkish-red to maroon flowers. Lonicera ssp. are woody throughout, not only at the caudex. Further, the flowers of Lonicera are zygomorphic (actinomorphic in V. major), and produce berries, not follicles. Some species of climbing Lonicera (L. caprifolium, L. sempervirens, L. reticulata, L. dioica, and L. hirsuta) have distinctively connate pairs of leaves under the inflorescence, not present in V. major. Most of the other Lonicera ssp. in Michigan without connate pairs of leaves are shrubs, except for L. japonica, which is also a vine. L. japonica has pubescent young stems and main veins on the adaxial surface of the leaves. Campanula ssp. are non-climbing herbs with alternate leaves and conspicuous blue bell-shaped flowers with one style and three stigmas, the calyx is adnate to the ovary, which produces a three-locular capsule (1,2).

Other members of the family in Michigan (number species): Apocynum (2), Asclepias (12), Vinca (1), Vincetoxicum (2) (source 1).

Ethnobotanical Uses: V. major has many medicinal uses, although many parts of the plant are toxic and not edible, especially the seeds and latex. The plant is used as an astringent, tranquilizer, stomachic, tonic, to control excessive menstrual flow, irregular uterine bleeding, vaginal discharge, hardening of the arteries, nosebleed, sore throat, and mouth ulcers. The greater periwinkle is of great importance for the pharmaceutical industry due to the alkaloids vincamine and reserpine. They are used respectively to stimulate the brain and as a vasodilator, and to reduce high blood pressure. A semi-synthetic alkaloid originated from Vinca, vinorelbine, is used to reduce tumor growth rates, with a higher response rate when used in ovarian cancer, sarcoma, non-small-cell lung cancer, and bladder cancer. Non-medical uses of the plant include basket weaving (9,10,12).

Phylogenetic Information: The family Apocynaceae is in the order Gentianales, part of the Asterid I clade of the Core Eudicots. Also part of the Gentianales is Rubiaceae, Gentianaceae, Loganiaceae, and Gelsemiaceae. “Apocynoideae, as well as the old Asclepidaceae and Periplocoideae, form the APSA clade, relationships within which are being clarified” (4). Members in the Apocynaceae and the old Asclepidaceae have similar alkaloids and are used to develop drugs for cancer treatment (9).

Interesting Quotation or Other Interesting Factoid not inserted above: V. major and V. minor were introduced to the United States in the late 1700s. The greater periwinkle has become seriously invasive in some riparian communities, decreasing biodiversity, tree sapling recruitment, and even interfering with federally threatened species populations such as the pallid Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pallida). In California, V. major is the host of a bacterial disease (Pierce’s disease) that affects vineyards (11). Due to the waxy coat on the leaves of V. major, spraying herbicide as a control method is ineffective. It is recommended that small infestations are hand pulled (with roots), or herbicide can be applied directly to fresh stem cuts and bruises (14). One of the popular ornamental choices is the variegated version of V. major: the green leaves are mottled with cream (15).

Literature and websites used:

Image Credits (all used with permission):
1. Image of entire plant courtesy of Cristine V. Santanna.
2. Image of leaves courtesy of Will Cook at
3. Image of leaf ciliate margin courtesy of Cristine V. Santanna.
4. Image of open flower courtesy of Cristine V. Santanna.
5. Image of seeds courtesy of Steve Hurst @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.
6. Image of flower bud courtesy of Cristine V. Santanna.
7. Species distribution map, derived from the Michigan Flora Online.

Primary Author: Cristine V. Santanna and John Bradtke, with editing by Robyn J. Burnham.
© Robyn J. Burnham
For additional information on Michigan Plant Diversity species accounts, please contact Robyn J. Burnham via email: rburnham“at”

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