Vincas are a low-growing flowering plant that is part of the Apocynaceae family. It is a small genus which includes only six varieties. The plants are not native to the United States, but are cultivated and are popular for adding to landscaping or for use in containers. Sometimes called periwinkle, this plant is not easily impacted by drought which makes it a perfect choice for dry regions. It is also quite easy to maintain. There are both annual and perennial varieties of vinca.
Uses for Vincas
This plant is popular for use as groundcover because four of the six varieties are evergreen. The most popular types are called Vinca Major and Vinca Minor. Unlike the two varieties that die off completely, these types will add beauty to your landscape or garden throughout the year.
As mentioned above, they are also popular in container gardens. The violet or white flowers are usually visible for several months out of the year, but the plants look lovely as a green plant when the flowers are not in bloom.
These plants are a great choice for both of the above uses because they are so easy to maintain. They can go quite a while without watering, so they make a great choice for those “forgetful” gardeners.
Planting and Caring
When planting outside, leave six to eight inches between each plant. Choose a location that provides partial shade. Partial shade is ideal, but they can also do well in full shade. Before planting outside, the temperature needs to be about 70° F. If you plant in colder weather, it may not survive. Whether planting outside or inside, you will need to choose a soil that is well-draining. As mentioned above, they are drought tolerant, so they will not do well with wet feet.
Water sparingly. In most places, the rain will likely be enough. If, however, you are experiencing a prolonged drought, you will need to provide some water.
A low-phosphorus fertilizer is the best choice. If you grow these plants from seeds, you should provide fertilizer about two weeks after the seeds germinate. After that, an application every two weeks will be sufficient.
If you plan to transplant your indoor plants outside be sure that you wait until the cold weather has passed for the year. Ideally, your vincas will not be subject to temperatures lower than 70° F, but the absolute lowest they should endure should be 65° F.
Interestingly, this plant has many medical uses. Extracts from the plants are even used in the treatment of certain cancers. One thing to keep in mind when using them in an outdoor setting is that they can spread very quickly. In many places, they are considered weeds because of how fast they can take over. While some welcome such easy and complete groundcover, if you want to contain the spread of the plants then you will need to trim them on a regular basis.
Vincas are a lovely choice in containers or for use as groundcover. The easy care makes them a great choice even for beginning gardeners.
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