Common Periwinkle, Creeping Myrtle, Flower-of-Death
Vinca minor

Family: Apocynaceae (a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Vinca (VIN-kuh) (Info)
Species: minor (MY-nor) (Info)
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Groundcovers

Perennials

Height:

under 6 in. (15 cm)

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Danger:

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Medium Blue

Purple

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Blooms repeatedly

Foliage:

Evergreen

Smooth-Textured

Shiny/Glossy-Textured

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From softwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Elmore, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona

Prescott, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Anderson, California

Castro Valley, California

Cerritos, California

Granite Bay, California

Los Angeles, California (2 reports)

Mission Viejo, California

Oceano, California

Rocklin, California

Silverado, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Aurora, Colorado

Clifton, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Fort Collins, Colorado

Littleton, Colorado

Parker, Colorado

Norwich, Connecticut

Bartow, Florida

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Athens, Georgia

Barnesville, Georgia

Cherry Valley, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Hinsdale, Illinois

Jacksonville, Illinois

La Salle, Illinois

Marshall, Illinois

Niles, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Macy, Indiana

Newburgh, Indiana

Melbourne, Kentucky

Bogalusa, Louisiana

Leesville, Louisiana

Slaughter, Louisiana

Bangor, Maine

South China, Maine

Brookeville, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Dundalk, Maryland

Westminster, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Danvers, Massachusetts

Taunton, Massachusetts

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

Novi, Michigan

Owosso, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Romeo, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Lake George, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)

Mathiston, Mississippi

Brunswick, Missouri

Lebanon, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Warrensburg, Missouri

Bozeman, Montana

Sparks, Nevada

Munsonville, New Hampshire

Vineland, New Jersey

Tijeras, New Mexico

Ballston Lake, New York

Buffalo, New York (2 reports)

Croton On Hudson, New York

Eden, New York

Greene, New York

Ithaca, New York

Port Chester, New York

Rochester, New York

Staten Island, New York

Boone, North Carolina

Cary, North Carolina (2 reports)

Cincinnati, Ohio

Fort Jennings, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Haviland, Ohio

Lewis Center, Ohio

Toledo, Ohio

Youngstown, Ohio

Jay, Oklahoma

Bend, Oregon

Klamath Falls, Oregon

North Plains, Oregon

Oakland, Oregon

Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Prospect Park, Pennsylvania

Watsontown, Pennsylvania

Waverly, Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Wakefield, Rhode Island

Conway, South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina

Huron, South Dakota

Lafayette, Tennessee

Abilene, Texas

Amarillo, Texas

Arlington, Texas

Clarksville, Texas

Fredericksburg, Texas

Frisco, Texas

Grand Prairie, Texas

Houston, Texas

Huntsville, Texas

Rochelle, Texas

San Angelo, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Kaysville, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Tremonton, Utah

Broadway, Virginia

Herndon, Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia

Oakton, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

Suffolk, Virginia

Bellingham, Washington

Brady, Washington

Edmonds, Washington

Freeland, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Lakewood, Washington

Midland, Washington

Spokane, Washington (4 reports)

Vancouver, Washington

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Watertown, Wisconsin

Waukesha, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

28
positives
7
neutrals
8
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Jun 7, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Together with pachysandra and English ivy, this is one of the three standard evergreen groundcovers here (Boston Z6a). Fills in quickly once established. Not a plant for the mixed border, as it spreads quickly and suppresses weeds and perennials alike---but that's why it's used as a groundcover.

I often see this in woodland where it's persisted around an abandoned home decades after the house is gone, but it never appears to spread under those circumstances. Though it does not support wildlife, it isn't generally considered invasive of natural areas.

It does not commonly rebloom here.

Positive

On Jun 5, 2015, Ijessie87 from Buffalo, NY wrote:

I have had this in my garden for years and honestly can't complain at all. It's an aggressive ground cover that grows like crazy, yet it's gentle enough to not kill other flowers in the garden. what's even better is it keeps the weeds out and helps hold moisture in the soil. The trick here is only get flowers that are more then 6 inches tall, don't plant seeds and expect them to grow with periwinkle in the way either. It won't climb or chock flowers or bushes. All in all its a great plant.

Negative

On Mar 9, 2013, HeidiKHandmade from Vancouver, WA wrote:

Have it and can't get rid of it! My mother thought that since the flowers were so pretty, we should plant it in the front flowerbeds...huge mistake! It choked out a young hibiscus tree and my five-year-old winter daphne...and the roses are shooting for the stars to get above it!

Positive

On Oct 27, 2012, naomiZ5b from Bangor, ME wrote:

Yes, vinca can be aggressive, but I am grateful for that, given the difficulty of getting anything to grow under my Norway maples or in the dirty fill (old nails, broken crockery, etc.) around my 1885 house. Vinca provides some of the latest and earliest green in a northern garden, and the blue flowers are lovely in May. It's not that hard to restrain -- just use a grub hoe rather than a spade! Having said that, I would not grow this plant if I lived where it could escape into a woodland. I am letting vinca duke it out with anemone sylvestris, another thug.

Positive

On Jul 21, 2012, rosepetal2 from Danvers, MA wrote:

I have a 50+ year crab apple in the middle of my rose garden that died , but I kept the tree's three 14 ft trunks as they are artfully twisted and provide support for Dutch Belgium honeysuckles. I created a 10 ft raised bed around the trunks and planted creeping Periwinkle/Myrtle. It is spectacular when combined with the honeysuckles gracing the three dead trunks. As with other "invasives" I found a little fore thought in planting in a contained area pays off dividends...Z6

Negative

On May 26, 2012, NJChickadee from Egg Harbor Township, NJ wrote:

This is one of those alien plants that aggressively overtake and destroy native plants upon which our native wildlife depends. I came close to planting this after finding it at my local Garden Shop, but

Negative

On Mar 24, 2012, glb360 from Grand Prairie, TX wrote:

Pretty when blooming but annoyed by its invasive habit (mine grows in the crown of a rose bush - ouch!). After reading the other posts I'll need to "ditch" the shovel and find a backhoe!

Positive

On Sep 3, 2011, soldiersong from North Plains, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

For me this is the perfect hanging basket perennial. Have lovely leaves year round, blooms in winter, spring and again in late summer. It does not seem to need a lot of water, nor full sun. It grows happily with afternoon sun for about four hours. All I do is water about once a week and trim the leaves when it gets too long. Its been happily keeping me from replacing hanging basket plants for about three years and holding. Not spectacularly showy, but steady, attractive and year round interest. That works for me!

Negative

On Jun 17, 2011, seran72 from Bozeman, MT wrote:

Too invasive in my garden. Although I find it lovely, I finally had to dig it all up. And I mean DIG! It does not just pull up.

Positive

On Jun 13, 2011, EvilPlot from Calgary , AB (Zone 3a) wrote:

Was gifted a packet of seeds last year and sprinkled some in the flower bed on the North facing side of the house last autumn and forgot all about it. Was doing some weeding yesterday and *SURPRISE!* they have established well! Pretty impressive especially for a North facing, USDA zone 3a!

Positive

On May 7, 2011, Lilac_jewel from Nelson
New Zealand wrote:

Though this pretty weed is a bit invasive,it is a wonderful looking plant from spring to autumn,and children love to suck on the ends of flowers to extract the sweet nectar,then open the flower to find the tiny 'Fairy Toothbrush'.

Positive

On Jan 11, 2010, feathervisions from Port Chester, NY wrote:

A lovely ground cover - pretty and requires little effort. Although some people find it invasive, I have found it no problem by simply mowing it down. Deer, when extremely hungry have been seen pulling at it, but they prefer other greens.

Negative

On Jun 29, 2009, l6blue from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

This will choke out everything but thistles and dandelions. Extremely invasive in my yard.

Positive

On May 24, 2009, magicfrizbees from Lewis Center, OH wrote:

Great ground cover under trees where grass won't grow - we always called it Myrtle. First to bloom in the spring (same time as the crocuses). Bees love it (mostly bumblebees at that time of year). Easy enough to contain if you keep up with it. I have entirely removed it from some beds - it can be done.

Negative

On May 14, 2009, ihug98trees from Mount Pocono, PA wrote:

Extremely invasive, smothers everything in its path. It forms an impenetrable network of spreading rhizomes that are impossible to pull up. A terrible plant for North American gardeners when there are so many native alternatives.

Positive

On May 1, 2009, lshields from Sag Harbor, NY wrote:

Using it as a ground cover in hosta, lily, and black eyed susan beds from deep shade to full sun. Is much more interesting than mulch and keeps the weeds down.
Didn't grow quickly the year it was planted but took off the next spring, flowering in both sun and deep shade. Works well for this purpose. Evergreen in zone 6.

Positive

On Jun 13, 2008, tinabeana from Greenville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have both vinca major and minor in my yard. Vinca major is the much more invasive of the two, growing over it's smaller sibling anywhere the two meet. Let me put it this way: you know a plant is invasive when it chokes out the baby bamboo that's randomly growing in your flower bed... I've pulled out a pile that overflowed a wheelbarrow, but unfortunately that was just one 10 x 2 ft area.

Living tendrils are difficult to remove from the ground, as they have an extensive and spidery root system. Any root that remains with most assuredly grow into a new plant. As hard as they are to deal with, they're still easier than the dead tendrils found underneath: these dry into cord-like whips that seem even more tightly rooted than their living counterparts.

To be so ... read more

Positive

On Jun 1, 2008, WNYwillieB from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Now, I live in Buffalo, as well, yet I find it perfect for those hard to grow, dark areas under the shrubbery, etc., which took forever to fill in. I find lily of the valley and H. cordata to be far worse invaders. Caveat Emptor. I guess a little bit of research can go a long way.

Dave's Garden dot com to the rescue!

Negative

On May 12, 2008, Jsorens from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Extremely invasive in my area, smothers everything in its path. It forms an impenetrable network of spreading rhizomes that are impossible to pull up, and it's somewhat resistant to Round-Up due to its waxy foliage. A terrible plant for North American gardeners when there are so many native alternatives.

Neutral

On Dec 20, 2007, Fledgeling from Huron, SD wrote:

Undeniably attractive, this plant is a pretty evergreen groundcover.

The flowers are apparently not attractive to insect pollinators and subsequently receive very few visits, if any. Foliage is toxic to herbivores and if the occasional seed is produced it is too small to be of interest to any wildlife. It does, however, provide cover (but not food) to various small animals. Overall, Vinca has very low ecological value.

Unfortunately it has a propensity to escape into shaded woodlands where it may crowd out native species. People planting this species should keep this in mind..

Positive

On May 25, 2007, kevanrijn from Parkersburg, WV (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have this as a ground cover in a completely shaded area where the ground is wet all the time and the soil is heavy clay. It does just fine and, in five years, has hardly spread. Perhaps such unhospitable a site has kept it from being too invasive.

Neutral

On Feb 21, 2007, fabooj from Los Angeles, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

I bought this plant last summer on a suggestion from a friend. I had a very shady area and wanted flowers. This plant did not let me down. I put it in a planter with a foxtail fern and both have done well, even surviving outside in our recent freeze. The only reason I haven't given it a positive is the lack of blooms. The last flower died in Sept. '06 and I finally just got one the other day. Odd because everywhere else I see it, it's always blooming.

Positive

On Feb 18, 2007, Bellisgirl from Spokane, WA wrote:

My mother and father have had this plant in their yard for almost twenty years now. It is extremly hardy and evergreen; wonderful all year round. Has pritty periwinkle flowers in the spring. Forms a large green carpet that is abour six or more inches tall. It is not what id call invasive, though it is hard to get rid of if you do not make sure to dig up all the roots. Has no problems with drought.

Neutral

On Dec 15, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Common Periwinkle, Creeping Myrtle, Flower-of-Death Vinca minor is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.

Negative

On Sep 9, 2006, jazmine188 from Silverado, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is extremely invasive where I live. I can not get rid of it. Flower-of-Death is an appropriate name.

Positive

On Jun 18, 2006, isabella from Taunton, MA wrote:

vinca minor is a fantastic evergreen perenial groundcover for zone 6. With snow protection it probably will survive even colder extremes. It blooms in spring after the crocus and with the daffodils.

The common periwinkle is a dark green leaf with purple/pink flowers. Variegated varietes and pink or white flowering VM are available. I have found that keeping the speading nature of the plant in check is relatively easy with regular edging and monitoring.

Even when my lawn browns in mid summer, the VM is glossy green and fabulous. I am surprised it is not grown more often as a groundcover.

Positive

On Jun 3, 2006, wheatwb from Thousand Oaks, CA wrote:

We love this plant and have had it on our back hill (45 degree slope) for the past 20 years. We are now experiencing a massive dieoff. After some research, we believe it is a fungus brought on by too much rain over the past two years. I believe it flourishes with less water. We're hopeing to save what was once a lush hillside. So lush that our Springer Spaniels would almost disappear it the foliage as they traversed the hillside. Their constant maneuvering on the hill never hurt the plant and their "paths" would spring back within a couple of days. If anyone has a recommendation to bring back the lush growth, please advise. Thanks

Neutral

On May 12, 2006, heavenlybubbles from Kitchener, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

Neutral because it doesn't like being contained, and I have a large family of snails living under its dark canopy, but its quite pretty and grows/flowers nicely in those hard to fill shady regions. You will have to trim it back every-so-often.

I first heard of Periwinkle when a child touring Crawford Lake, a conservation area on the Niagara penisula in Ontario (canada). What draws people to this park is the reconstructed15th century Iroquoian Village. However, if you take a hiking tour you discover that a rich family of Euopean settlers (the Crawford's) bought the land near the beginning of the century and the lady-of-the-house planted the non-native periwinkle on the shore of the lake. That patch of periwinkle is still there covering the forest floor (its quite beautiful). ... read more

Positive

On Mar 22, 2006, centralva from Richmond, VA wrote:

Periwinkle, in the midatlantic ,was used as a ground cover/
marker for family graveyards on farms.Since tillable land was at a premium, most families located there graveyards in shady untillable areas.[usually between clumps of big trees]Periwinkle grows well in dappled shade and is much lower in maintence than grass.Its also, once established, much more reliable as a marker than cloth tied to a tree,which will rot.

Positive

On Mar 9, 2006, SW_gardener from (Zone 6a) wrote:

We've had very good success with this plant as a ground cover in fairly deep DRY shade. Also grows well just about anywhere, although, I've never tried it in the blazing sun.
Great plant for the garden and grows good in containers.

Positive

On Feb 14, 2006, beatfive from Fredericksburg, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have had very good results with Vinca Major in my alkaline soil. It grows on a moderate slope with semi-shade and I keep the soil moist with water from my air-conditioner drain. It requires very little maintenance and I fertilize spring and fall. I have planted Spanish Bluebells in the Vinca and what a show they put on in the spring.

Positive

On Jan 15, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Blooms April - July in my garden.

Vinca will grow anywhere, which is always a plus. I love it planted with the daffodils; the yellow and purple really compliment each other. Don't let it spread where you don't want it. It is easy to keep from establishing, but once it is established, it is hard (but not impossible) to get rid of.

My information says that it is hardy in zones 3-10. Other names include Dwarf Periwinkle, Trailing Myrtle, and Violet of the Sourcerers.

Positive

On Aug 31, 2005, Erynne from Orangeville, ON (Zone 4b) wrote:

A very happy plant here in Mississauga, Ontario (Z5b). Vinca minor was already established when I moved in a month ago and already I've replanted it to a spot with a bit more sun. It doesn't seem to mind the replanting at all and in fact has thanked me by filling out a bit more. The blooms are violet in color.
Here's what I found on the web with regards to the name "Flower-of-Death" (kinda creepy):

"In folk belief, any vine of vinca brought into the house was unlucky unless it had at least seven flowers on it. One of the folk-names of Vinca minor is "Flower of Death" because it was woven into a band worn by dead children, & planted in particular on the graves of infants, while in medieval times it was woven into crowns to be worn by criminals on the way to executio... read more

Positive

On Apr 22, 2005, SudieGoodman from Broaddus, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

FOR: 433kfj from Klamath Falls, OR
Are you saying Vinca Major came out fifteen years ago?
I planted rooted plants in my North flower bed. It has done very well for the past five years.
I wish I knew why Vinca Minor is also called Flower-of-Death.
I 've had Vinca Minor in another garden. However, I prefer the larger blooms. Mine are the size of a half dollar and deep blue. Blooms all summer. Leaves stay green year round.
I've not had any fungi, pests, or difficulty with Vinca Major. It is easy to grow.

Positive

On Apr 15, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

I put this into a couple of planters in dry shade a few years ago. It took a few years to get established, and now it's scrambling out of the planters. I don't really mind.

Positive

On Apr 15, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is currently the only groundcover I grow. It's cheery violet-blue flowers, while most prevalent in springtime, can be found here & there nearly year-round. Performs respectibly & politely everywhere from full shade to full sun - although of course full shade plants will have fewer (sometimes no) flowers. The fact that it's evergreen is also another plus.

The plant itself has an airy vining spread to it. It's not a climber, nor is it as thick, suffocating, or aggressive as English Ivy or Virginia Creeper. It's also very easy to propogate, & fills in garden areas quickly & neatly. Probably most important for a groundcover, it is very easy to control.

Positive

On Apr 14, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I really like this plant. In the spring, currently mid April, the wood's ground errupts into purple flowers. It's very attactive and I don't notice it ever crowding any other plant out. It seems completely harmless... even though I don't think I'd be able to get rid of it all even if I wanted to... which I don't.

Update:
We've been mowing in the woods, to get rid of biennial weeds, for a few years now and a lot of the Vinca has disappeared.

Positive

On Nov 20, 2004, 433kfj from klamath falls, OR (Zone 6a) wrote:

I've seen this plant growing in people's yards around here for years, but never outside of cultivation. Many of the places seem to be very old, I.E. around turn-of-the-century (the one before this last one!) I was allways confused about the true identity of it because it had so many popular names, and the vinca "major" and "minor" didn't help any. I've decided the one around here must be the "minor" because of the rough conditions I've seen it in and the fact that it has been around so long. We have'nt had a really cold winter in a while, so "major" is possible if planted in the last 15 yrs or so, but I'm sure the old plantings are "minor" as we have had very severe cold winters in the past. The pictures of either, to me, look identical and I think I would have to see them together in per... read more

Neutral

On Apr 19, 2004, ben_f from University Park, PA wrote:

I came across the flower of death in the summer of 2003, I have yet to try it until now. My experience with it was overall very positive. It really bloomed firmly when I wanted it too. The person I was with at the time didn't received it very well. She said it was painful to even think about, I'm not sure what her problem with it was. Therefore, my experience is neutral. I recommend the flower of death to anyone with some experience in the field. Caution: don't try it unless you know what you are doing, the flower of death is a very mysterious thing, ya know, like the wind or something.

Positive

On Apr 18, 2004, ACHunter from Elmore, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

My mother had this growing in the woods beside her house. I pulled up a piece of it with roots and replanted in my yard. It seems to be doing well. No flowers yet although hers was flowering at the time I pulled a piece of it off. Maybe it only blooms in spring here.

Neutral

On Jan 10, 2004, smashedcricket from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Native to the woodlands of Europe and North Africa. Spreads out very nicely and sometimes can become an invasive weed. Flowers best in indirect sunlight. Perfers shade rather than full sun. Soil should be moist, well drained and fertile. Try to avoid overhead irrigation as much as possible because stem blight fungus could potentiality kill the plant. Stem blight usually occurs during peroids of cool wet weather. Maintain good air circulation. Very hardy. Prefers warm weather.


Positive

On May 22, 2002, hensler from Newport, WA wrote:

A hardy perennial groundcover, not to be confused with Madagascar periwinkle or vinca major. Vinca minor is hardy to zone 3 and once established can handle extreme drought as long as it's planted in shade.

Blooms are typically blue or blue-violet but can also be found in red-violet and white. Flower forms can be single or double. Leaf color is typically dark green but new variegated forms are also available.

Neutral

On Mar 10, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

An excellent evergreen groundcover with dark green foliage, the perennial periwinkle should not be confused with the bedding plant, Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus).

Flowers are purple, blue or white depending on the cultivar, and bloom in mid-spring. Spreads by sending out long trailing and rooting shoots, which make new plants.