Are Periwinkles the Same as Vincas? Exploring the Differences and Similarities

Are periwinkles the same as vincas? It’s a question that has been on many gardeners’ minds for quite some time now. Periwinkles, also known as Vinca Minor, is a popular ground-covering plant with delicate, purple blue flowers, whereas vincas, also known as Vinca Major, is a shrub-like plant that can grow up to three feet tall and has larger, purple flowers. While the two plants may have similar-sounding names and belong to the same family, they are, in fact, very different.

As a gardening enthusiast myself, I’ve always been fascinated by the subtle differences between plants. And when it comes to periwinkles and vincas, there’s no shortage of differences to explore. From their size and growth pattern to the color and size of their flowers, each plant has its charm and uniqueness. But what really sets Periwinkles and Vincas apart is their adaptability to different environments. While periwinkles thrive in shady spots, vincas prefer full sun – making them ideal for different garden spaces.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just a casual green-thumb, understanding the differences between periwinkles and vincas can help you create a more diverse and colorful garden. So, let’s take a closer look at these two plants and discover what makes them so different from each other. From their origins and growth habits to their flowers and foliage, we’ll explore everything you need to know about these fascinating plants.

Understanding the Differences Between Periwinkles and Vincas

If you’re like many gardeners, you may have used the terms “periwinkles” and “vincas” interchangeably. While they share some similarities, periwinkles and vincas are different plants with unique characteristics. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between periwinkles and vincas:

  • Genus: Periwinkles belong to the genus Vinca, while vincas belong to the genus Catharanthus.
  • Leaves: Periwinkles have rounded leaves with a glossy finish, while vincas have narrow leaves with a matte finish.
  • Flowers: The flowers of periwinkles are typically blue or purple, while vincas have flowers in a range of colors including white, pink, and red.

While both periwinkles and vincas are popular in garden beds, they do have different growing requirements:

  • Light: Periwinkles prefer full sun to partial shade, while vincas can tolerate full sun or partial shade.
  • Water: Periwinkles like moist soil but don’t tolerate soggy conditions, while vincas can tolerate periods of drought.
  • Cold Tolerance: Periwinkles are more cold hardy and can survive frost, while vincas can only tolerate light frost.


While periwinkles and vincas are often confused for one another, they are two distinct plants with different characteristics and growing requirements. By understanding the differences between these two genera, you can choose the right plant for your garden’s needs.

Next, let’s take a closer look at the history and origin of periwinkles and vincas in our next subtopic.

The Physical Characteristics of Periwinkles

Periwinkles are small, flowering plants that are often confused with the similar-looking vinca or common name, myrtle. However, the two plants are distinct species and differ in several physical characteristics:

  • Periwinkles have five-petaled flowers in shades of blue, pink, or purple, while vincas have five-petaled flowers in shades of pink, white, or lavender.
  • Periwinkles have glossy, dark green, elliptical-shaped leaves, while vincas have lance-shaped leaves that range from bright green to a yellow-green color.
  • Periwinkles are typically smaller in size than vincas, reaching heights of only 6-8 inches tall, while vincas can grow up to 18 inches tall.

Additionally, periwinkles have a unique characteristic known as “self-heading,” meaning that the plant grows in a tight, compact form without requiring any pruning or intervention. This makes them ideal for planting in borders or as ground cover.

The Many Benefits of Periwinkles

Periwinkles are a highly versatile plant with many benefits, one of which is their ability to withstand heat, drought, and poor soil conditions. They are often used in landscaping due to their ability to grow in difficult environments and are a popular choice for rock gardens and borders.

In addition, periwinkles have medicinal properties and are used to treat a variety of ailments such as bleeding disorders, diarrhea, and sore throats. The plant contains a chemical called vincamine that can improve blood circulation and cognitive function, making it a common ingredient in neurological supplements.

Uses of Periwinkles

Periwinkles are not just used for landscaping and medicinal purposes. They are also grown for their attractive flowers and foliage, which can be used in floral arrangements or to add color to salads and drinks. The plant’s leaves and stems contain a toxic alkaloid called vincristine, which is used to treat leukemia and other types of cancer.

Common Name Scientific Name
Common Periwinkle Vinca minor
Bigleaf Periwinkle Vinca major

Whether you are looking for an attractive ground cover or a plant with medicinally-prominent properties, periwinkles are a great choice. With their many uses and versatile characteristics, periwinkles are a staple in gardens and are a favorite plant among many enthusiasts.

The Physical Characteristics of Vincas

Vincas, also known as periwinkles, are a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers for their low maintenance, versatility, and striking beauty. Here are the physical characteristics that make vincas unique:

  • Vibrant Colors: Vincas come in a variety of shades, including pink, red, purple, white, and even bi-color varieties. Their petals are usually five and have a waxy, smooth texture that gives it a glossy appearance.
  • Glossy Foliage: Vincas have dark green, glossy leaves that are oval or lance-shaped. These leaves are arranged oppositely, meaning they grow on opposite sides of the stem.
  • Compact Size: Vincas typically grow to a height of 6 to 18 inches and have a spread of 1 to 2 feet. They are ideal for planting under trees, along borders, and in containers.

Vinca Flowers and Seeds

Vincas are an annual or perennial plant that is easy to grow from seed. They bloom throughout the growing season, from late spring to fall. Vincas have several types of flowers, including stellate, salver-shaped, and funnel-shaped. The flowers are produced singly or in clusters. Each bloom lasts for about a day, but vincas are prolific bloomers, and new flowers emerge to replace spent ones.

Once vincas have finished flowering, they produce dry, dehiscent seed pods. These pods resemble seed capsules, and each pod can produce several seeds. To collect vincas seeds, wait until the seed pods have dried on the plant. Remove the pods and crack them open to release the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant them in the spring.

Vinca Cultivars and Hybrids

Vincas are available in many different cultivars and hybrids that vary in size, habit, and color. Some of the most popular cultivars and hybrids include:

Cultivar/Hybrid Color Habit
Corona Pink, red, and white with a dark center Compact, mounding habit
Mediterranean XP Pink, red, and white with a prominent eye Upright habit
Pacifica Shades of blue, pink, and purple Upright habit
Sunstorm Shades of pink and red Compact, mounding habit
Tattoo Bicolor flowers with a contrasting center Upright habit

Vincas are a versatile plant that can be grown as a bedding plant, a ground cover, or in pots and hanging baskets. With so many colors and cultivars to choose from, vincas are sure to brighten up any garden or landscape.

How to properly care for periwinkles

Periwinkles, also known as Vinca minor, are attractive ground-cover plants that produce a profusion of blue or purple flowers in spring and summer. These plants are also very hardy and require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal choice for gardeners looking to add low-maintenance plants to their landscaping.

  • Planting: Periwinkles grow best in moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. They prefer partial to full shade and can tolerate a wide range of soil pH levels, from acidic to alkaline. When planting periwinkles, make sure to space them about 12-18 inches apart to allow ample room for growth.
  • Watering: While periwinkles are drought-tolerant, they will produce more flowers and grow faster with regular watering. Water them deeply once a week during dry spells, or whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as periwinkles prefer soil that is well-draining.
  • Fertilizing: Periwinkles do not require a lot of fertilizer, but a light feeding in early spring can help promote healthy growth and blooming. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, which promotes flower production. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for application rates and timing.

Here are some additional tips for caring for periwinkles:

  • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage the plant to produce more blooms.
  • Trim back any overgrown or yellowing foliage to maintain the plant’s shape and encourage new growth. This is best done in early spring or after flowering.
  • Periwinkles are relatively pest and disease-resistant, but keep an eye out for snails, slugs, and spider mites, which can occasionally infest these plants.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, attractive ground cover for your garden, consider planting periwinkles. With just a little bit of care and attention, these hardy plants will reward you with beautiful blooms year after year.

Taking care of periwinkles in a table

Take a look at this table for a quick reference guide on how to care for periwinkles:

Care Tips Details
Soil Moist, well-draining soil rich in organic matter
Watering Water deeply once a week, or as needed during dry spells
Fertilizing Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer high in phosphorus in early spring
Deadheading Remove spent flowers to encourage more blooms
Pruning Trim back overgrown or yellowing foliage in early spring or after flowering
Pests and Diseases Watch for snails, slugs, and spider mites

By following these simple care tips, you can ensure that your periwinkles remain healthy, attractive, and a beautiful addition to your garden landscape.

How to properly care for vincas

Vincas, also known as periwinkles, are low maintenance plants that are perfect for gardeners of all levels. Known for their delicate blooms, these plants are native to Europe but have become a beloved choice for gardeners worldwide. Here are some tips to help you properly care for your vincas:

  • Location: Vincas prefer full sun or partial shade. Make sure to plant them in an area that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Soil: Vincas prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, then mix in compost or other organic matter to improve drainage.
  • Watering: Vincas are drought-resistant and prefer soil that dries out between watering. Water deeply once a week, or whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.

To keep your vincas looking vibrant and healthy, there are a few additional steps you should take:

Pruning: Regular trimming of your vincas will encourage bushier growth and more blooms. Pinch back the tips of the plant periodically, or use pruning shears to remove dead or damaged growth.

Fertilizing: While vincas typically do not require additional fertilizer, you can feed them with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season to encourage more blooms.

Pest control: Vincas are hardy, but they can still be susceptible to pests like spider mites and aphids. Check your plant periodically and use insecticidal soap or neem oil if you spot any infestations.

Common Problems Possible Solutions
Fungal diseases (powdery mildew, root rot) Improve air circulation around the plant or treat with fungicide if necessary.
Yellowing leaves Check for overwatering or pests.
No blooms Make sure the plant is getting enough sunlight and check for over-fertilization.

With the right care, your vincas will provide beautiful blooms all season long and make a lovely addition to your garden.

The History and Origin of Periwinkles

Periwinkles, also known as Vinca minor, are a type of creeping ground cover that can be found in many parts of the world. Their history and origin can be traced back thousands of years. Let’s take a deeper look at the fascinating history of periwinkles.

Periwinkle’s Origins

  • Periwinkles are native to central and southern Europe, as well as western Asia.
  • They have been cultivated for their medicinal properties for thousands of years and were used to treat a range of ailments including headaches, toothaches, and even cancer.
  • The ancient Greeks believed that periwinkles held mystical properties and used them in various religious ceremonies and rituals.

Spread Across the Globe

Periwinkles eventually found their way to North America, where they were introduced as an ornamental plant in the 1700s. They quickly became popular due to their beautiful blue and purple flowers and their ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions.

Today, periwinkles can be found all across North America and other parts of the world, where they continue to be a popular choice for ground cover in gardens and parks.

Medicinal Properties

Periwinkles continue to be used for their medicinal properties today. The plant contains a number of alkaloids, including vincamine and vinblastine, which have been used to develop various medications.

Medication Use
Vincristine Treatment for various cancers
Vinblastine Treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers
Vincamine Treatment for cognitive impairment and stroke

Periwinkles have also been used in traditional medicine to treat high blood pressure, memory loss, and other conditions.

In conclusion, periwinkles have a rich and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. From their use in ancient Greek ceremonies to their modern-day medical applications, these resilient plants continue to capture our imagination and have a powerful impact on human health and wellness.

The History and Origin of Vincas

Vincas, also known as Vinca minor or common periwinkles, are native to Europe and parts of Asia. They have been cultivated as ornamental plants since the early 18th century and are now widely used in gardens and landscapes all over the world. Here are seven interesting facts about the history and origin of vincas:

  • The plant’s name, Vinca, comes from the latin word for “to bind,” as the plant’s long vines were used to make wreaths in ancient times.
  • Periwinkles were brought to America by early colonizers in the 1700s, primarily for medicinal purposes. The plant was believed to have healing properties and was used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, sore throats, and eye infections.
  • In many cultures, vincas are associated with death and are planted on graves as a symbol of remembrance. In Ireland and Scotland, periwinkles were believed to protect against the evil eye.
  • During the medieval period, it was believed that drinking a tea made from periwinkle leaves could improve memory and cognitive function. This belief led to the plant being referred to as the “herb of happy memory.”
  • Vincas played a symbolic role in Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In the play, the fairy queen Titania is bewitched with a blanket of periwinkle flowers.
  • Periwinkles can be used to create a natural blue dye. The plant contains a type of molecule called anthocyanins, which give the flowers their vibrant blue color.
  • Vincas have been used to treat cancer in traditional medicine, due to the presence of alkaloid compounds within the plant.

Overall, the history and origin of vincas is long and fascinating. These plants have played a variety of roles throughout history and continue to be beloved for their beauty and medicinal properties.

Are Periwinkles the Same as Vincas FAQs

1. Are periwinkles and vincas the same plant? Yes, periwinkles and vincas are the same plant. Both names are used to refer to the species called Vinca minor.
2. What color do periwinkles or vincas come in? Periwinkles, or vincas, can come in a range of colors from white to pink, lavender to purple, and even blue or red.
3. Do periwinkles or vincas grow well in shaded areas? Yes, periwinkles or vincas can grow well in shaded areas. They are known to grow and bloom in both full sun and partial shade.
4. What kind of soil and water conditions are ideal for growing periwinkles or vincas? Periwinkles or vincas prefer well-draining soils and moderate watering. They do not require much water and can even tolerate dry soil conditions.
5. Can periwinkles or vincas be planted in a container garden? Yes, periwinkles or vincas can be planted in a container garden. The plants are tolerant of a variety of soil types and pot sizes.
6. Are periwinkles or vincas harmful to pets? While periwinkles or vincas are generally not poisonous to pets, they do contain alkaloids and can cause a mild upset stomach if ingested in large amounts.
7. How do you propagate periwinkles or vincas? Periwinkles or vincas can be propagated through seeds or stem cuttings. To propagate through stem cuttings, simply take a cutting from an existing plant and plant it in a pot or in the ground.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you have learned more about periwinkles and vincas, you can confidently identify and cultivate these beautiful plants in your garden. We hope you found these FAQs informative and helpful. Thank you for stopping by, and be sure to check back for more informative articles!