Lesser periwinkle

The lesser periwinkle displays its beautiful blue flowers from the middle of April. You can find out here how to properly care for this easy-care groundcover plant.

Apr 09, 2021 02:50 pm
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Growth type
  • half shrub
Growth height (from)
from 10 cm to 30 cm
Growth width (from)
from 20 cm to 50 cm
Growth characteristics
  • flat growing
  • carpet forming
Flower color
  • purple
  • blue
  • white
Flowering time (month)
  • April to May
  • August to September
Flower shape
  • 5-fold
  • Uniflorous
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • elliptiques
  • oval
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
Fruit color
  • brown
  • green
Fruit shape
  • Bellows fruit
  • sunny to shady
Soil type
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to moderately humid
ph value
  • weakly alkaline to acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Leaf ornaments
  • Nectar or pollen plant
  • native wild plant
  • toxic
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 5
areas of life
  • G2
  • GR2
  • ground cover
  • Embankments
  • Grave planting
  • Underplanting
Garden style
  • cottage garden
  • natural garden
  • Park area
  • Rhododendron garden
  • Forest Garden
Bee Friendly
bee friendly plant

The lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor), also known as creeping myrtle, is native to southern and central Europe. It belongs to the Apocynaceae family. Today, it has also taken hold as a neophyte in the Near East. It originates from our native mixed beech forests.


The lesser periwinkle only grows 3.94 to 11.81 inches tall and spreads like a carpet through rooting soil shoots. As the shoot base is woody, from a botanical perspective this plant is not a shrub, but a semi-shrub. The lesser periwinkle grows comparatively slowly, however it can cover large areas over time.


The wintergreen, opposite leaves are oval shaped, dark green and leathery with a shiny surface. A white milky sap leaks out of snapped off leaves and shoots.


The wild species flowers are pure blue and each consist of five petals. These rotate like the wings of a propeller, asymmetrically to the right. The lesser periwinkle flowers from mid-April and re-flowers into September.

Lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor)
The blossom of the lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor) brings a vivid blue into your garden. Even its foliage looks magnificent

The lesser periwinkle forms small, double-bellow fruit. These are brown-gray seed capsules that break open when the seeds are mature.

Location and Soil

The lesser periwinkle is actually more of a sunshine groundcover plant, however, it is also suitable for shady garden areas. Although it forms significantly fewer flowers as groundcover in the shade and does not grow as densely as in the sunshine. The plant is highly adaptable to the soil type. Humus and nutrient-rich, moderately dry to moderately damp, sandy to loamy soils are ideal. The lesser periwinkle is lime-tolerant and also manages well in acidic soils.


The plant is quite adaptable to the soil. Ideal for Vinca minor is a humus and nutrient-rich, moderately dry to moderately moist, sandy to loamy soil. The Small Periwinkle is lime tolerant and can also cope with acidic soil.

Lesser periwinkle Vinca minor
The densely growing Vinca surfaces are a rich food source for bees in the spring
Planting and Care

You should calculate nine plants per 10.76 square feet for planting an area. As the lesser periwinkle roots also grow well at low temperatures, planting in the fall is recommended, despite the evergreen foliage. The soil must be well prepared before planting: Remove all root weeds such as couch grass and ground elder and work around 0.79 gallons of mature compost into the ground at a shallow level. After planting, fertilize with horn shavings as a supplement and then spread a layer of bark mulch around 1.97 inches thick. Ensure the plant branches well from the start by cutting back the shoots by about a half before or straight after planting.


Caring for the small periwinkle is limited to regular weeding. In addition, you should occasionally apply fresh bark mulch or mulch the soil with autumn leaves - this acts on the growth of the plants almost like a fertilizer. The Small Periwinkle copes relatively well with temporary drought, but the plant should still be watered in good time if the rain fails.


You can prune the plants - preferably in the fall after flowering - however this is generally only necessary if the lesser periwinkle groundcover surface has not become properly dense. Tip: Simply plant the shoot cuttings in the gaps between the plants - they will take root without any problem.

Winter protection

Vinca minor is basically hardy. However, in its young years and during prolonged frost, the plant is grateful for a light winter protection in the garden.

Where to plant in the garden

The lesser periwinkle is almost exclusively used as groundcover in gardens. It should predominantly be planted in bright, albeit off-sunny locations under larger bushes and trees with thin crowns. It is not suitable as groundcover in heavy shade as it will not form a reliable thickness here and will allow too many weeds to push through. The lesser periwinkle is also suitable for plant containers, narrow planting strips along the house and for graveside planting. As it has a highly tolerant roots, you can also use it to underplant less competitive bushes and trees such as various guelder rose species, witch hazel, and flowering dogwoods.


Vinca minor ‘Elisa’ (left) and Vinca minor ‘Marie’ (right)

The varieties ‘Anna’ with large, blue flowers, and ‘Marie’, with a light foliage and lilac-blue flowers, make good groundcover. The variety ‘Elisa’ adorns itself with white flowers. In the late summer it ensures a flowering carpet once again with its lavish late blooms. Further varieties that form a dense carpet and beautiful flowers are ‘Josefine’ and ‘White Power’. Those who prefer uniform green groundcover should plant the varieties ‘Green Carpet’ or ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.


The lesser periwinkle can be very easily propagated through division or cutting off individual, already rooted ground shoots. The perfect time for this is during the fall and spring months. Propagation through cuttings is possible at any time during the vegetation period, the shoots form reliable roots in a not too sunny place in damp humus soil, even without a film cover.

Diseases and Pests

If the leaves are covered with light stripes and growth stagnates, then the plants are infected with the cucumber mosaic virus. Dig up diseased examples immediately and dispose of these in the household garbage. Yellow colored leaves with dark-brown spore hymenia on the undersides of the leaves indicate a rust infection. Standard trade fungicides can help to combat this. So-called shoot death occurs in particular in wet, compressed soils with a generally low proportion of humus. Pests such as spider mites and aphids occasionally spread over the plants.