May 10, 2010

Periwinkle in a Pot

At my old house I couldn't get a patch of Vinca to spread.  I didn't know much about gardening then (the garden bug didn't hit me until we moved to our new home a few years ago), but I knew periwinkle was a somewhat maligned invasive spreader, good for not much more than covering problem areas in shade, if you could control it.

Well, that's what I had, a problem area.  It was a strip under mature overgrown shrubs that lined the driveway.  It was growing there when we moved in, and because I didn't want to try to mow a 10 inch strip of grass under the shrubs, I thought I would encourage it as a groundcover.  I dug up runners, replanted them, watered them in to extend the patch all down the edge of the driveway.  Repeatedly.  I weeded my vinca, taking out the tall grass shoots that wanted to grow in it.  I cleaned out the hockey pucks and wiffle balls that tried to make a home there at the end of each sports season (the top of the driveway was both home base and the goal crease for many years).

It never took.  The patch of vinca was quite nice, bloomed a little bit each spring, and stayed green and glossy all year, but it never went any further than where it was originally.  Unlike the rowdy hockey players and wiffleball whackers in our driveway, it behaved.  I could not get it to spread.

But as I constantly ministered to this small patch, I got to know it, intimately.  Because I was replanting and dividing it, and god help me, even weeding it, I got to actually see the pretty little blossoms, and really enjoy their shy faces.  The flowers are typically so lost in the mass of groundcovering where periwinkle grows.  But up close they are sweet, almost apologetically lighting up the dark green background of their foliage.

So I dug a little of my non-spreading periwinkle out of the driveway strip and put it in a pot to bring to the new house.  But I never planted it outside here.  Instead, it sprawls and wriggles and entertains in a container inside, where I really appreciate the lavender blooms and the deep green leaves spilling onto the table.

I guess I'll keep it here, a likable old friend that grew where it could watch my boys play, behaved nicely the whole time, and seems as happy in a pot as it was in its contained little patch at the old house.

Vinca minor in MoBot's database
(this picture from MoBot)


  1. Laurrie, your vinca in a pot is beautiful. I have it growing in a hot dry spot and I think it behaves. I can think of much worse plants. I like vinca in the yard and I just have to try it in pots.
    PS: I am making sure you are on my Blog List-Gloria

  2. I have a patch of it that the birds planted. UGH...I have to keep after it to keep it in the side lot. I don't want it inside the fence. It just doesn't understand my way of thinking. It looks quite beautiful in the pot. Beware where you plant it in your garden. I can hear you thinking.

  3. Your vinca is very pretty in the container. And I do like it's blooms and they way it works as a ground cover. But! In my gardens it spreads like wildfire. After planting some to cover a few areas when I wasn't able to do much gardening, it has become very invasive. Now that I am garening again, I spen a lot of time pulling it up and cutting it back to keep it from choking out other plants.

  4. Very pretty in a pot. I actually love the glossy green foliage. Great idea!

  5. I can't get it to spread on a shady hill full of maple roots that's always dry -- shocker, right! It looks beautiful in your pot though. I never thought to bring it inside or add it to one of my shady perennial containers. You've inspired me.

  6. Hi!
    I followed you back here from your GOOPS comment, and boy am I glad I did! I'm up in MA on my second year of gardening and am enjoying reading about what you're putting in. You're so well informed!
    I had to laugh about your color-clashing consternation with the trees flanking your garage because I think they look great! Though I freely admit I'm a girlie-girl that would intentionally put those together, throw in a light pink climbing morning glory and maybe some purple creeping flox under it all... can you imagine it?! Ha ha, to each her own I guess!
    : ) Meg

  7. Gloria, I think the answer to control vinca outside is to keep it in a hot dry place, as yours is.

    Lisa, I don't know if you can convince your vinca to doesn't seem to be listening!

    Beckie, You and Lisa are both convincing me I don't ever want to plant mine outside, even though I couldn't get it to spread
    originally. Once it does spread..... yikes.

    Garden Ms. S, thanks for admiring!

    Heather, it's apparently the dry conditions that work best to control periwinkle. I think you'll like it planted up in a container.

    Meg, welcome, and thanks for your nice comments. I had fun checking out your blog of renovations and home projects... love to see the progress!

  8. Strange how different everyones experience is with this. The woods near my house are filled with it. I am actually planting the very steep slope to the street with periwinkle, too difficult to mow.

  9. Deborah, the key seems to be dry soil, which acts to contain it. The woods near your house are probably damp enough to encourage it to spread. I hope it works for you on your steep slope.

  10. That's a great way to showcase vinca.

    It is a ground-swallowing pest in NC. I don't have any, but you see it and wisteria everywhere around old homes in Chapel Hill.

  11. Sweet bay, I have zone envy when I visit your blog, but not when I consider that the rampant growers are way more aggressive for you!

  12. I just bought some vinca that was on sale for .50 at Loews yesterday.I put both of them in a pot and they are on my porch right now. They are pretty well squeezed in there and the pot is 3". Do you think I should repot them in something larger?

    1. Yes, you probably want a bigger pot to let them ramble and spread out so they'll be their prettiest.

  13. Sounds like a good idea. Also, later on in the fall, is it possible to bring vinca inside and keep it going?


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