Periwinkle Vinca difformis
Vinca difformis, commonly known as the intermediate periwinkle, is an evergreen perennial with a sprawling growth habit. The plant is adorned with glossy, dark green leaves that are oval to lance-shaped with a leathery texture. These leaves grow opposite each other along sprawling stems that root at the nodes when they come into contact with the soil. The intermediate periwinkle produces an abundance of flowers that provide a charming display. The blooms are usually pale blue or violet, featuring a five-petaled, pinwheel shape that is typical of periwinkles. The flowers are centered with a smaller, tubular structure that adds depth to their appearance. Blooming predominantly occurs in the spring, but in milder climates, the plant can flower off and on throughout the year. The overall aesthetic of the intermediate periwinkle is one of casual, ground-covering lushness with spots of delicate, pastel-hued blooms that add a light, romantic touch to the plant's appearance. Its sprawling stems create a mat-forming effect, making it a popular choice for covering bare spots in gardens or underplanting beneath taller shrubs.
About this plant
Intermediate Periwinkle, Creeping Myrtle
Vinca media, Vinca forsteri, Vinca elegans.
Periwinkle (Vinca difformis) contains toxic alkaloids, such as vincristine and vinblastine. These substances can be harmful if ingested and can cause symptoms including gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In more severe cases, ingestion could lead to systemic effects such as depression of the central nervous system, cardiovascular compromise, seizures, and potentially coma. Contact with the sap may also cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. To avoid any risk of poisoning, it's crucial to keep this plant out of reach of children and to not consume any part of it.
Periwinkle (Vinca difformis) is toxic to pets, including dogs and cats, primarily due to the presence of alkaloids such as vincristine and vinblastine. If a pet ingests periwinkle, symptoms of poisoning can occur and may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, tremors, seizures, and potentially life-threatening cardiovascular collapse. It's essential to prevent pets from accessing this plant, and if you suspect your pet has ingested any part of it, seek immediate veterinary attention.
Color of leaves
1-2 feet (30-60 cm)
1-2 feet (30-60 cm)
- General Benefits
- Landscape Ornamentation - Vinca difformis, also known as the Intermediate Periwinkle, is often used in gardens for its attractive, star-shaped blue flowers and glossy, evergreen foliage.
- Ground Cover - With its creeping habit, the Intermediate Periwinkle is effective at covering bare spots in the garden, reducing soil erosion, and minimizing weed growth due to its dense foliage.
- Low Maintenance - It is a hardy plant that requires minimal care once established, making it ideal for gardeners looking for low-maintenance landscaping options.
- Drought Tolerance - The Intermediate Periwinkle is relatively drought-tolerant, meaning it can survive in conditions with limited water supply after it has been established.
- Shade Tolerance - Vinca difformis can thrive in partially shaded environments, making it suitable for planting under trees or in other shaded areas of a garden.
- Fast Growth - It has a fast-growing nature, which allows for quick coverage and can be advantageous for gardeners looking to achieve a full look in a short amount of time.
- Wildlife Attraction - While not major, it can provide some level of attraction for pollinators such as bees which are important for the ecosystem.
- Medical Properties
- Alkaloid Production: Vinca difformis, like other Vinca species, is known to produce alkaloids such as vincamine, which has been used in the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders.
- Cognition Enhancing: Vincamine extracted from Vinca difformis may enhance cognition, as it aids in improving blood flow to the brain.
- Air-purifying Qualities
This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.
- Other Uses
- Ground cover: Vinca difformis, commonly known as Intermediate Periwinkle, is often used as a fast-spreading ground cover in gardens due to its ability to thrive in shady areas and its evergreen foliage.
- Erosion control: The plant's dense growth can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes and banks.
- Habitat enhancement: Its growth can provide shelter for small animals and insects in garden settings.
- Decorative displays: The pale blue flowers of Intermediate Periwinkle can be used in floral arrangements and as garden ornamentals during its blooming season.
- Culinary decoration: Edible flowers from Vinca difformis can be used to garnish dishes, although they are more often used for decorative purposes than for flavor.
- Crafts: Dried stems and flowers can be incorporated into wreaths and other dried flower arrangements.
- Living mulch: The thick mat of foliage can act as a living mulch, suppressing weeds and maintaining soil moisture.
- Garden borders: Its neat trailing habit and attractive flowers make Intermediate Periwinkle a popular choice for defining garden paths and bed borders.
- Natural dye: Historically, some species of Vinca have been used to produce green dyes, although this is not a common use for Vinca difformis.
- Learning tool for plant biology: Vinca difformis can be used in educational settings to teach about plant habit, growth, and reproduction.
- Feng Shui
The Periwinkle is not used in Feng Shui practice.
- Zodiac Sign Compitability
The Periwinkle is not used in astrology practice.
- Plant Symbolism
- Perseverance: The Vinca difformis, commonly known as the Intermediate Periwinkle, is known for its ability to grow and spread in various conditions, symbolizing the human trait of continuing persistently in spite of difficulties.
- Everlasting love: With its perennial nature and the tendency to cover the ground with blossoms, the Intermediate Periwinkle signifies enduring and evergreen love.
- Memory: In some traditions, periwinkles are associated with memories, making the plant a symbol for recollecting past experiences fondly.
- Renewal: The heralding of spring with its blue flowers is a reminder of new beginnings and the renewal of life, often associated with the plant's blooming cycle.
For the Periwinkle (Vinca difformis), it's important to maintain a balance in watering; it prefers well-drained soil that is kept consistently moist but never soggy. During the growing season, usually in the spring and summer, water Periwinkle deeply once a week with approximately one gallon of water per plant, adjusting this as needed based on rainfall and temperature. In the winter months, reduce the frequency of watering to every other week or less, depending on the plant's environment and if it's outside or indoors. Always check the top inch of soil; if it feels dry to the touch, it's time to water. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so ensure good drainage and avoid letting the plant sit in water.
Periwinkle thrives best in partial shade to full sun conditions. The ideal spot for a Periwinkle plant is where it can receive morning sunlight and afternoon shade, particularly in areas with hot summers, to prevent leaf scorch. However, it is also adaptable to a range of light conditions and can tolerate full sun in cooler climates. Ensure the plant receives several hours of light daily, but avoid prolonged exposure to harsh midday sun.
Periwinkle is relatively hardy and can tolerate a wide temperature range, generally thriving in temperatures between 60°F and 85°F. It can survive minimum temperatures down to about 30°F; however, it will not tolerate sustained freezing conditions well. In areas with particularly hot summers, provide protection during the peak heat hours to ensure optimal growth and health. Care should be taken to avoid exposure to temperatures exceeding 90°F for extended periods as this can stress the plant.
Pruning Periwinkle encourages bushier growth and can help control its spread in the garden. It's best pruned in the early spring or after it has finished flowering to remove any dead or damaged stems and to shape the plant. Periwinkle can be pruned back hard if needed, as it will typically recover well. Pruning every year or every other year is sufficient, depending on the plant's appearance and desired size.
The intermediate periwinkle thrives best in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter, with a preferred pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. A soil mix of equal parts garden soil, peat moss or compost, and coarse sand or perlite would be ideal to ensure proper drainage and fertility.
Intermediate periwinkle should be repotted every 2 to 3 years to prevent it from becoming root-bound and to replenish its soil with fresh, nutrient-rich mix.
- Humidity & Misting
Intermediate periwinkle requires moderate humidity levels and can tolerate the humidity levels typically found in a home environment. There's no need for misting or special humidity precautions.
- Suitable locations
Place in bright, indirect light and water when soil feels dry.
Plant in partial shade, fertile soil, and water regularly.
- Life cycle
The life of Vinca difformis, commonly known as Intermediate Periwinkle, begins with seed germination, which occurs when environmental conditions are favorable, typically in warm and moist soil. The seeds develop into small seedlings with substantial root structures and a set of true leaves. Once established, the seedlings grow rapidly, exhibiting vining stems and evergreen foliage, becoming perennial ground cover plants. Flowering generally occurs from spring to autumn, producing delicate blue or white flowers that are pollinated by insects, leading to the production of seeds that are then dispersed, often by animals or water. The plant also spreads vegetatively by rooting at the nodes where stems come in contact with the soil, creating new clonal plants. In the right conditions, Intermediate Periwinkle can become a robust, sprawling plant, creating extensive mats of vegetation over time.
Spring to early summer
Vinca difformis, commonly known as Intermediate Periwinkle, can be propagated most effectively through stem cuttings. This method is usually done during late spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. Cuttings about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in length are taken from healthy, non-flowering stems. The lower leaves are removed, and the cut end is dipped in rooting hormone powder to facilitate root development. These prepared cuttings are then planted in a well-draining soil mix, ensuring that a few leaf nodes are buried where roots can form. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged, and the cuttings should be placed in indirect sunlight. Within a few weeks, the cuttings will begin to establish roots and can be transplanted to their final growing location.