Vinca, or periwinkle, is a low-growing plant with blue, purple or white flowers that bloom from spring to fall. Depending upon the species, vinca may be an annual or perennial. The plants are attractive and trail across the ground in the garden or spill out of containers and pots. Vinca grows best in full sun, but can also thrive in the shaded areas beneath trees and shrubs. Vinca minor grows only about 8 inches tall, while vinca major can get up to 18 inches tall. Vinca is easy to grow and maintain as long as you provide enough sunlight, water and fertilizer.
Plant vinca in moist, well-drained soil in full sun to shade. In especially hot regions, plant the vinca where it will receive afternoon shade to protect it from sunburn. Vinca adapts to most types of soils. In containers, vinca needs a well-drained growing medium and will thrive and flower in a bright area of the home.
Water vinca thoroughly at planting time in the garden or container. Keep the plants moist with weekly waterings until the roots establish themselves. About 1 inch of water per week is generally sufficient. Container-grown plants and plants in hot, sunny areas need more frequent watering. It is better to water deeply less frequently than to water often and shallowly.
Fertilize established vinca plants annually in spring or late fall with a complete fertilizer such as 12-12-12. Spread granulated fertilizer at the rate of one-half to 2 pounds of fertilizer for each 100 square feet of flowerbed and water thoroughly. Soluble fertilizer formulated for flowering houseplants works well on vincas growing in containers. Follow label directions for application rates and timing.
Control weeds in the garden with systemic herbicides or dig weeds up with the hoe or garden trowel. You can also pull up some species of unwanted weeds and other vegetation by hand. Once the vinca spreads and thickens in the garden, the plants will shade out most weeds. Spread a 2-inch layer of organic moss such as wood chips or peat moss around the vinca plants to prevent new weeds from springing up.
Use pruning shears to cut large, leggy growths back almost to the ground to encourage new growth. Cut back severely in early spring or divide masses of vinca plants to give them room to leaf out more fully. Trim trailing stems of container-grown vincas any time.