Periwinkle Vinca minor 'Illumination' (v)

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
lesser periwinkle 'Illumination'


Vinca minor 'Illumination', commonly known as lesser periwinkle or dwarf periwinkle, is a visually striking groundcover plant. It is renowned for its variegated foliage, which exhibits a vibrant golden-yellow color at the center of each leaf, bordered by a contrasting dark green edge. This distinctive color pattern gives the plant a luminous effect, as if it were illuminated from within. The leaves are small and ovate with a glossy texture, creating a dense mat over the ground. The plant produces lovely flowers that further accentuate its appeal. These are typically a deep blue-violet color, with a simple, pinwheel shape composed of five petal-like lobes that spread outwards. Flowers emerge abundantly in spring, bringing with them a pop of color against the variegated leaves, and can continue to sporadically bloom throughout the summer months. As a whole, the visual appeal of Vinca minor 'Illumination' lies in its splendid foliage and charming flowers, creating a tapestry of color that can brighten shaded areas in a garden setting. It is often favored for its ability to provide year-round interest, thanks to the evergreen nature of its leaves and the seasonal appearance of its blooms.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Dwarf Periwinkle, Myrtle, Creeping Myrtle, Lesser Periwinkle.

    • Common names

      Vinca minor 'Illumination'.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Periwinkle is considered to be toxic if ingested. Symptoms of periwinkle poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, seizures, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, and even coma as a result of its various alkaloids, which have a depressive action on the body.

    • To pets

      Periwinkle is also toxic to pets, including dogs and cats. Ingesting this plant can cause similar symptoms as in humans, which might include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, low blood pressure, depression, tremors, seizures, and potentially coma. It is important for pet owners to prevent their animals from ingesting periwinkle.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      4-6 inches (10-15 cm)

    • Spread

      1-3 feet (30-90 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Low Maintenance: Vinca minor 'Illumination' is known for its ease of care, requiring minimal attention once established.
    • Ground Cover: It acts as an effective ground cover plant, spreading quickly and inhibiting weed growth with its dense foliage.
    • Drought Tolerant: Once established, it is tolerant of drought conditions, making it suitable for drier climates or areas with water restrictions.
    • Shade Tolerant: This plant flourishes in shaded areas where other plants might struggle, making it ideal for understory planting and shady gardens.
    • Erosion Control: Its root system helps to stabilize soil on slopes and in areas prone to erosion.
    • Ornamental Value: Provides aesthetic appeal through its variegated foliage and blue or violet flowers that bloom in spring.
    • Deer and Rabbit Resistant: It is not generally favored by deer or rabbits, thus reducing the likelihood of damage from these animals.
    • Winter Interest: Its evergreen leaves provide color and interest in the garden even during the winter months.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Improved blood flow to the brain - extracts from the plant have been investigated for their potential to increase cerebral blood flow.
    • Neuroprotective effects - there is research into Vinca minor's alkaloids for their potential in protecting nerve cells.
    • Vasodilatory properties - compounds in the plant may have the ability to dilate blood vessels.
    • Cognitive enhancement - there is interest in the plant's alkaloids for improving cognitive function.
    Please note, use of this plant for medical purposes should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional, and the above information does not constitute medical advice.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Vinca minor 'Illumination', also known as periwinkle, has been used in mandalas and spiritual practices for its intricate leaves and symbolic value of eternity and steadfastness.
    • Periwinkle can be used in educational settings to teach basic plant propagation techniques through cuttings, as it roots easily and demonstrates plant growth processes for students.
    • The long-lasting flowers can be used as a natural dye for textiles, producing a range of soft blue and purple hues.
    • Periwinkle's dense growth habit is utilized in miniature gardens and fairy gardens to mimic the look of a lush, miniature forest floor.
    • Its evergreen leaves and trailing growth make it a suitable addition to hanging baskets in shaded locations where few plants can flourish.
    • When dried, the vines of periwinkle have occasionally been woven into small handicrafts and ornamental items due to their flexibility.
    • Gardeners sometimes use the plant to model natural growth patterns in artistic landscaping and naturalistic garden designs.
    • The plant can serve as a living mulch under trees where grass struggles to grow, aiding in soil moisture retention and weed suppression.
    • In photography, its vibrant foliage and contrasting flowers offer a picturesque background for macro photography and botanical illustrations.
    • Creative culinary enthusiasts have used periwinkle as an edible garnish, despite it being non-traditional and requiring careful consideration of its non-edibility in larger quantities.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Periwinkle is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Periwinkle is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Perseverance - Vinca minor, commonly known as periwinkle, is a hardy plant that can thrive in various conditions, symbolizing the ability to persist through challenges.
    • Memory and Remembrance - Periwinkle has often been associated with enduring memories and is sometimes used in commemorations to represent remembrance.
    • Eternity and Everlasting Love - The evergreen nature of periwinkle and its habit of spreading can indicate undying affection, signifying a love that lasts forever.
    • Friendship - As a plant that forms strong connections through its spreading vines, periwinkle can represent the ties of friendship that connect individuals.
    • Tranquility - The periwinkle is also known for its soothing blue-violet flowers, which can evoke feelings of calmness and peace.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Not needed
Spring to early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The common periwinkle should be watered thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Water the plant with approximately 1 gallon of water per week, adjusting for rainfall and temperature, as the plant will require less water in cool temperatures and more in hot conditions. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so ensure good drainage. During the growing season in spring and summer, watering frequency may increase, especially for plants in containers.

  • sunLight

    Common periwinkle thrives in partial to full shade but can also tolerate sunny spots if not too hot. The ideal location would offer dappled sunlight, protecting the plant from the intense afternoon sun. A spot under the canopy of large trees or on the north side of a building would be suitable, ensuring the plant receives light without being exposed to harsh conditions.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Common periwinkle prefers moderate temperatures and is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9, enduring minimum winter temperatures of about -30°F and maximum summer temperatures around 90°F. The plant's ideal growing temperature is between 60°F and 70°F. Extreme heat can stress the plant, so provide adequate shade and hydration during hot spells.

  • scissorsPruning

    Common periwinkle benefits from occasional pruning to prevent it from becoming too dense and to maintain its shape. Pruning can stimulate new growth and improve the health of the plant. The best time to prune is in early spring or after the plant has flowered. It doesn't need frequent pruning; once or twice a year should be sufficient.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The best soil mix for Periwinkle is well-draining soil with compost or peat moss mixed in, providing rich organic content. The ideal pH for Periwinkle should be slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.5.

  • plantRepotting

    Periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Illumination') is typically a ground cover and is not commonly repotted. If grown in containers, repotting every 2-3 years or when rootbound is sufficient.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Periwinkle thrives in average humidity conditions and does not require any special humidity requirements. As long as the soil moisture is maintained, the plant is quite adaptable to different atmospheric humidities.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright, indirect light and keep soil lightly moist.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, ensure soil is fertile and well-drained.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Vinca minor 'Illumination', commonly known as Periwinkle 'Illumination', is a perennial plant which begins its life cycle when its seeds germinate in spring, given adequate moisture and temperatures. After germination, the seedlings establish a root system and produce shoots, which grow into young plants with characteristic variegated leaves. During its active growing season in spring and summer, Periwinkle 'Illumination' develops trailing stems that root at the nodes, allowing the plant to spread and cover the ground effectively. The plant flowers prolifically in spring, with the potential for sporadic flowering throughout the summer, showcasing small, blue or violet, pinwheel-shaped flowers. Once pollinated, these flowers produce seeds which can be dispersed to create new plants, though the plant more commonly propagates through its vegetative rooting stems. Heading into fall and winter, growth slows down, and Periwinkle 'Illumination' may become dormant in cooler climates, but it typically remains evergreen, surviving through the winter to restart its growth cycle the following spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to early summer

    • The ideal time to propagate Periwinkle 'Illumination', commonly known as Vinca minor 'Illumination', is in the spring or early fall when the plant is actively growing. The most popular method of propagation for this plant is through division or by taking stem cuttings. To propagate by division, gently dig up an established plant, ensuring to keep a good amount of roots attached, and pull apart or cut through the root ball to create smaller sections, each with several shoots and ample roots. These can then be replanted in a well-draining soil mix, spaced adequately apart to allow for growth. When propagating by stem cuttings, take cuttings that are about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) long, remove the lower leaves, and plant them in a potting mix, ensuring that the nodes where the leaves were removed are buried as these areas will develop roots. Keep the soil moist and maintain a humid environment until the cuttings have rooted, which may take a few weeks. This method allows for a new plant that is genetically identical to the mother plant, ensuring that the distinctive variegation of 'Illumination' is preserved.