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Vinca minor - lesser periwinkle

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Vinca minor ©Susanna

Lesser periwinkle is a delicate dwarf shrub but once it has gained a footing it doesn’t easily relinquish it. It is a good choice if a ground-cover plant is needed in areas which are very shady. At Mustila, it is one of the basic plants in the Rhododendron Valley. It gradually forms a tight mat when its long creeping tendrils root themselves from their joints, and produce erect short stems. The evergreen leaves are small and stiff, growing opposite on the erect short stems.

Periwinkle flowers are borne in the leaf axils, where the leaves join the stems. The round flowers are most abundant in early summer but occasional new flowers appear through until late autumn. Their colour varies from pale blue to deep violet. The leaf colour is also variable. Selections have been made from these variable colour-forms and cultivated as named varieties.

In rich soil and partial shade the lesser periwinkle develops into a thick, multilayered mat which can threaten smaller neighbours. The stems also clamber over other plants. It is at its best as ground cover under medium to large shrubs or in shady spots.