A mix of Cora® vincas. Photo by Proven Winners.

If you love the look of impatiens but need a carefree flowering annual that thrives in full sun, annual vinca is a great choice. Both plants produce an abundance of small, colorful flowers all summer long. But while most impatiens wither in hot, dry weather, vinca is undaunted by intense summer heat, making it a favorite choice for southern gardens.

And talk about variety! In addition to the usual pastel tones, you can now find yummy shades like grape, blackberry, apricot, cherry red, and tangerine—often enhanced by contrasting eyes. A wide range of growth habits are available, including trailing and dwarf forms tailor-made for containers and hanging baskets.

On this page: Basics | Growing Tips | Caring for Vinca | Annual Vinca Pictures

VINCA BASICS

Botanical name:

Catharanthus roseus

Common names:

Madagascar periwinkle

Zones:

Technically a tender perennial in Zones 9 to 11, but usually grown as an annual in most climates.

Height/spread:

Typically 12 to 24 inches tall and wide, with the exception of dwarf and trailing types.

Bloom time:

Early summer until frost.

Special features:

  • Attracts butterflies.
  • Heat and drought tolerant.
  • Needs no deadheading.
  • Attractive glossy green leaves.
  • Rabbit resistant.
  • Pest and disease resistant.

Note: Not to be confused with common periwinkle (Vinca minor) and greater periwinkle (Vinca major), which are low-growing, evergreen perennials often used as groundcovers.

GROWING TIPS

Cora® Cascade Polka Dot vinca. Photo by Proven Winners.

Where to plant:

In full sun to part shade in well-drained soil.

When to plant:

After the ground has warmed up in the spring, typically mid-May or later in northern climates.

Growing from seed:

Sow seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks prior to the last frost date in your area, following the instructions on the seed packet. Seeds germinate best when the soil temperatures are over 75° F. Transplant seedlings outdoors once air and soil temperatures are consistently above 65° F.

Growing in containers:

Plant in any general-purpose, well-draining potting soil. One with a slow-release fertilizer will keep your plants well fed for a month or longer and get them off to a vigorous start. If combining vincas in the same container with other annuals or perennials, choose varieties that have the same exposure and water requirements.

Planting in the garden:

Space plants far enough apart to ensure good air circulation (about 8 to 12 inches, depending on plant size at maturity). In heavy soils, work in some compost at planting time to improve aeration.

CARING FOR VINCA

Watering:

Vincas like their soil to be on the dry side, so only water when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry to the touch or when rainfall is insufficient to supply an inch of water per week. To prevent leaf spot and fungal diseases, avoid overhead watering or water your plants early in the morning so the foliage has plenty of time to dry before nightfall.

Fertilizing:

Apply a light top dressing of compost or a slow-release granular fertilizer at planting time. Container-grown plants may need more frequent feedings with a liquid fertilizer.

Pruning:

Although pruning is unnecessary, you can pinch plants back if you want a fuller appearance. Flowers are self-cleaning, sparing you the chore of deadheading.

Pests and problems:

Annual vinca is invincible to most pests, but it can succumb to stem and root rot caused by Phytophthora—a soil- and water-borne fungal-like microorganism. The best preventive measures are to avoid overwatering and provide good drainage. These plants are also susceptible to leaf spot diseases, with the best defense being good air circulation and to water them in the morning. Another way to avoid fungal problems is to plant one of the newer disease-resistant cultivars, such as the Cora® series.

ANNUAL VINCA PICTURES

Swipe to view slides

Photo: Proven Winners

Cora® ApricotPreorder from Proven Winners beginning 12/1/20
Catharanthus roseus

Height:

14 to 16 inches

Spread:

22 to 25 inches

Why we love it:

This robust bloomer keeps on going strong until the first touch of frost, putting on a continuous display of coral-colored blooms enlivened by perky red centers. Bred to be highly resistant to stem and root rot, it’s a reliable performer even during periods of extreme heat and humidity.

Photo: Proven Winners

Soiree Kawaii® PinkPreorder from Proven Winners beginning 12/1/20
Catharanthus hybrid

Height:

6 to 10 inches

Spread:

12 to 18 inches

Why we love it:

In Japanese, the word “kawaii" means cute, which aptly describes the small pink flowers of this unique hybrid. Although tiny, the flowers create a big impact with their color intensity and abundance. An extremely compact, mounded growth habit makes this a great standalone plant in pots and containers.

Also try:

Other colors in the Soiree Kawaii® series, including Coral Reef, Blueberry Kiss, White Peppermint, Light Lavender and Red Shades.

Photo courtesy of Ball Seed.

Mediterranean XP Burgundy Halo
C. roseus

Height:

4 to 6 inches

Spread:

Up to 30 inches

Why we love it:

Here’s another container superstar, especially in hanging baskets, where you can best show off the long, cascading branches covered stem to stern with deep burgundy-red flowers. The only trailing vinca offered in a red hue, according to breeder PanAmerican Seed.

Photo by Hort Pics / Millette Photomedia.

Tattoo™ Tangerine
C. roseus

Height:

10 to 14 inches

Spread:

6 to 8 inches

Why we love it:

These distinctive tangerine-colored blooms look as if they have been airbrushed with dark purple ink, creating smudges of color radiating from bright white centers. Even in a small planting, the vivid color contrast and large overlapping petals create an eye-catching display.

Also try:

Tattoo™ Black Cherry, a blend of cherry and raspberry-colored petals enhanced by deep purple brushstrokes.

Photo courtesy of All America Selections.

Jams ‘N Jellies Blackberry
C. roseus

Height:

14 to 16 inches

Spread:

10 to 12 inches

Why we love it:

A truly unique accent plant for summer garden beds and containers, this All-America Selections winner produces masses of luscious deep-purple flowers the color of blackberry jam, set off by rich emerald-green foliage. Tiny white eyes stand out like luminous stars in contrast to the nearly black petals.

Photo courtesy of All America Selections.

‘Jaio Dark Red’
C. roseus

Height:

12 to 15 inches

Spread:

Up to 20 inches

Why we love it:

Another All-America Selections top pick, earning kudos for its vivid scarlet-red flowers, prominent white centers, and well-branched, uniform habit. The large 2-inch blooms remain vibrant for weeks, even during periods of heat and drought.

RELATED:
Amazing Annual Flowers for Sun
Impatiens Flowers for Sun or Shade

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