Vinca: An excellent groundcover
Vinca minor, also known as myrtle pr periwinkle, is a fast-spreading, hardy groundcover that thrives as far north as zone 4 and as far south as zone 10. The plants offer attractive glossy foliage and sweet flowers. Pairs of shiny, narrow green leaves cover 1- 1.5 ft. long arching stems, which scramble over the ground and root at stem tips and leaf nodes. One plant can send out more than 100 stems. In early spring, the plants are covered with small, showy, pale blue flowers for about a month.
There are several vincas to choose from. I like the “Bowles” cultivar whose leaves and flowers are larger than other varieties. Bowles is also extremely prolific, and blooms sporadically throughout the growing season. Variegated vinca has creamy-white and green leaves, however, it does not develop as fast for the purpose of a groundcover. Using it as a groundcover would require a great number of the plants.
Vinca grows marvelously in full sun or deep shade in most parts of the US. When vinca is planted in the shade, its foliage is deeper green and its growth is not quite as vigorous, but it still forms a lovely bed. Where summers are very hot, vinca looks best in part or full shade. Vinca appreciates a 10-6-4 fertilizer and a heavy mulching. Most people do not bother pruning back vinca, but doing so can assist in stimulating new growth.