How to Grow Periwinkle Groundcover


Periwinkle spreads quickly with glossy oblong leaves and single purple, blue or white flowers that bloom in spring. The plant is also known as Vinca major, Vinca minor or myrtle. It spreads growing about 6 inches tall in either partial shade, where the color of leaves is more vivid, or in the sun where it produces more flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller or shovel
  • Compost
  • Trowel
  • Mulch
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Plant after the last frost in spring or a month or two before the first expected frost in fall. Look for healthy green plants that have few to no flowers in the garden center.

  • Dig down and turn over the soil at a 6 inch depth incorporating 1-inch compost in the ground. This may not be possible under trees because roots grow in the top 12 inches of the soil. Use a shovel and carefully dig down about 2 to 3 inches where possible.

  • Dig a hole that is two times as wide as the root ball and the same depth it is in the pot. Set the plant in the hole, then fill around with soil and firm it into the ground.

  • Arrange plants in rows, spacing the plants about 12 inches apart. Start the next row 12 inches behind. Place each plant in between the plants in the first row making a diamond configuration with all plants being 12 inches apart. Plants should be staggered and instead of making straight, uniform lines so they fill in the area properly.

  • Water plants so soil is evenly moist for a few weeks until they become established. Mulch new plants to keep roots moist. Eventually the plants will grow dense and mulch will not be necessary. Pull weeds regularly so they are not in competition with periwinkle for nutrients in the soil.

  • Dig up a clump of periwinkle and plant it in areas where none grow after a month or so of growth. This allows for complete coverage without having to purchase more plants.

  • Fertilize in the spring with 10-10-10 fertilizer at 6 pounds to 1,000 square feet.

Tips & Warnings

  • Periwinkle is susceptible to Phytophthora, a disease that attacks when conditions are wet and cold. Planting late in spring when rains have stopped and nights are warm will prevent excess moisture that allows the disease to flourish.
  • Plant periwinkle on slopes or banks, under trees or next to buildings.
  • Plant periwinkle in fall interspersed with spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips. They grow well together and produce a display of contrasting colors.
  • Do not place the plants closer than 6 to 12 inches to avoid poor air circulation and unhealthy plants.

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