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Vinca minor 'Alba' (Small-leaved White Periwinkle) - January 2nd 

I would normally describe Vinca minor as a spring to summer flowering creeping shrub, but the one if the photo seemed very happy to put on a display in early January - in fact the 2nd of Jan.

These flowers on this Vinca minor Alba had braved the snow and night temperatures of -9deg C. Combined with the fact that they were situated at a highways roundabout which is used predominantly by HGVs going into and out of a busy industrial estate it speaks highly of the hardiness and durability of the Vinca minor group generally.

Vinca minor normally flowers from February/March onwards throughout the summer and even into Autumn.

The  above example should say all that needs to be said about its hardiness!

The small-leaved evergreen Vincas (Vinca minor) are available in several shades of blue and also white - V. minor Alba as in the image. There is also a deep purple. Vinca is often referred to as a Perennial, but are in fact true shrubs. (All shrubs are perennial anyway!)  

Flower closeup of the white periwinkle Where to Grow Vinca minor – the Periwinkle.

Vinca minor will grow virtually anywhere in the garden, but in very dry soils, will need to be watered often in the formative years. After the first two years it will have formed its own mulch, helping keep the soil moist under its carpet.  It will not grow well in very sandy soils.

Once established, it is the perfect low growing evergreen groundcover shrub – especially suited to covering up a sunny bank, or even a heap of garden rubbish that cannot otherwise be disposed of.


 Vinca minor - more so than its large cousin, Vinca major - is normally grown as an evergreen groundcover, and as such tends to get taken for granted and left to its own devices. It will respond to that neglect, and other than pulling out a few isolated weeds, will repay you with a good carpet of green foliage for twelve months of the year, with a reasonable splattering of small flowers resting on the foliage.

There are also a few with variegated leaves – Vinca minor ‘Aureovariegata’ with golden blotched leaves probably the best. There are also one or two double-flowered cultivars available. (There are also the larger leaved Vincas - Vinca major. Not my favourites!)

The periwinkles are great for ground-cover, flowering best on a sunny bank, though also happy in part shade beneath trees and shrubs. They do not like the soil to be too dry, so if planted on banks, then ensure a supply of water in hot summers. They will spread well after establishment, and can be restrained - to a certain extent - by cutting back in early spring.

The small-leaved Periwinkle is also good as a ‘stand-alone’  or maybe ‘lie-alone’ subject in a large old container in shade where nothing else seems to grow. It will farm a good ‘waterfall of foliage throughout the year – with flowers as an added extra.

If grown this way, or any other way, they respond well to being cut back hard in the spring. That way you will end up with small ‘cushion pads’ of flowers.

Propagation of Vinca minor

Propagation of Vinca minor Alba - and the other Vinca varieties is easy. You can either divide the mature plants, or dig up rooted 'layers' in autumn or spring and plant into new position.

If taking off the rooted layers, then plant a handful in pot or new planting position for quick establishment. A single stem will take a couple of years to make good.

Problems with Vinca minor

There are no real problems to report, though aphids sometimes have a meal, but are hardly noticeable.

Leaf spots, by way of rust is sometimes a problem, and should be treated with a copper fungicide as soon as discovered.

Back to main shrubs section | Back to Seasonal Plants January Page


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