Perry's Perennial Pages

Vinca minor 'Ralph Shugert'

    Perennial of the Month-- August 2004 

(veen' kah)(pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Vinca, Periwinkle

Family: Apocynaceae, Dogbane

Height x width: 6" x 36" (more or less)

Growth rate; habit: moderate to slow (slower than species), vining open groundcover, spreading more from crown than rooting along stems

Foliage: opposite, glossy, dark green with white margin, evergreen, flowering and non-flowering stem

Flowers: solitary, funnel-shaped, late spring to early summer, in leaf axils, pale blue

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9

Soil: moist, well-drained, tolerates poor and dry

Light: part shade to shade, tolerates sun in North if sufficient moisture

Pests and problems: none significant; if too much sun and insufficient moisture, may yellow; stem blight if too wet; may retain some brown leaves in winter

Landscape habit, uses:  groundcover which can be aggressive in ideal locations (less than species) as Midwest and warmer climates;  slopes as for erosion control, woodland gardens, cascading from containers; combines well with lungwort or astilbe or Ghost Fern if moist soil, hostas if dry soil; also try with coralbells, variegated solomon's seal, or Lenten Rose; interplant with white daffodils

Other interest: unique foliage for this genus, nice contrast with flowers; this cultivar named for noted Michigan plantsman; a sport of Bowle's Variety with similar flowers.  It is not to be confused with the annual periwinkle Catharanthus or species major which is less hardy; species native to Europe; names from the Latin vincio meaning to bind, and later Middle English per wynke meaning same, refering to use of species in making wreaths which in Middle Ages were placed on heads of criminals on their way to execution; in Italy it was known as Fiore de morte being placed on bodies of dead infants; later and still occasionally today it is known as "Joy of the Ground"

Other culture: not to be planted where spread among other plants is not desired

Propagation: patented so commercially only by licensed growers; division of rooted shoots (non-flowering stems root at nodes), layering, cuttings

Sources: many local and online specialty perennial nurseries

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