In the heat of July and August when many garden plants are taking a siesta, periwinkle is at its best, soaking up the most blistering weather of the season.
The straight facts about periwinkles
- They are easy to care for
- Loves high temperatures and thrives equally in the dry heat of a prairie summer or the sometimes sticky atmosphere of humid regions.
- Often called annual vinca, but also goes by the name of Madagascar periwinkle.
- Shiny dark green leaves frame flat, five-centimetre-wide (two-inch-wide) flowers that often show a contrasting white or red central eye.
- The plants grow 30 to 38 centimetres (12 to 15 inches) high and wide, making them ideal for edging and mass planting.
- Depending on variety, flower colours may be neon pink, soft lilac or white with pale yellow centres, or virtually any shade in between.
- The flowers are not only colourful but also self-cleaning, which means that they drop from the plant as they fade.
Choosing a periwinkle
Periwinkles soft pink and lilac-coloured plants are highly praised for its icy hues while being an excellent annual for the hottest weather. Popular series, including Cooler and Pacifica, offer these shades along with much brighter ones. If you want to attract plenty of attention from a distance, choose deep-pink ‘Stardust Orchid’, which is marked with a star-shaped white eye, or the dark, rose-pink variety ‘Pacifica Punch’. In cold climates, periwinkle rarely grows taller than 20 centimetres (eight inches), but in warmer climates gardeners can expect it to grow to 45 centimetres (18 inches) tall or even taller.
Periwinkle is not difficult to start from seed, but you will save time and trouble by buying bedding plants.
- Wait until the soil is warm to set out seedlings, or use them as early summer replacements for cool-season annuals.
- Amend poor soil with a balanced organic or controlled-release fertilizer at the rate recommended on the label.
- Do not overfertilize this flower; it is more important to provide a well-drained spot and soil that is warm enough to promote fast growth. Plants grown in cold, clammy soil may develop problems with root rot, which causes them to suddenly collapse and die.
- In cool climates, it’s best to grow periwinkles in dark-coloured, sun-absorbing pots until summer weather becomes suitably warm, then set them in the ground.
- Periwinkles need no grooming or trimming, though they often benefit from a booster feeding of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, sprinkled over the root zones of the plants in midsummer.
- Do not plant periwinkle in the same place more than once every four years. The roots host a potentially deadly fungus, which can become a serious problem if the growing site is not rotated properly.
Periwinkles are excellent bedding plants that grows best in sunny, warm, well drained soil and comes in a variety of colours making it a perfect addition to your flower bed.