Gerald L. Klingaman
CATHARANTHUS roseus( COOLER SERIES)
Plant Common Name
Cooler Vinca, Madagascar Periwinkle, Vinca
The Madagascar periwinkles in the Cooler Series are compact, have large, rounded flowers with overlapping petals and are more tolerant of cooler temperatures than most. Their bright flowers come in an array of vibrant colors such as white, lavender, red and magenta-purple. These bloom continuously as long as growing conditions are favorable.
Vinca, or Madagascar periwinkle, is a bushy tender perennial shrub that delights with many colorful, radial flowers that appear all season long. As its common name suggests, it’s native to Madagascar, a tropical island off the southeastern coast of Africa. Not surprisingly, this popular bedding plant is both heat and drought tolerant, so it will continue to look glorious even when the weather isn’t. In the wildlands of Madagascar it favors sandy or limestone soils and dry, open woodlands or grasslands.
Small, elongated to elliptical evergreen leaves of dark green cover this low-growing bushy shrub. The lustrous leaves have lighter central veins and smooth edges. Blooms appear continuously as long as weather is favorable. The showy, radial, five-petaled blooms are rose-red, pink or white in the wild but varieties with novel flower colors have been cultivated over the years. Red, lavender, orange and burgundy flowered varieties exist and many have or white or red blotch in the center, called an eye. Butterflies are attracted to the flowers, so expect visits from these fine, fluttery creatures.
Full to partial sun is needed for best growth and flowering. Madagascar periwinkle will thrive in poor soils and marginal areas but also grows well in fertile, well-drained garden loam. Poorly-drained, heavy soils should be avoided at all costs as they typically cause root rot. Deadheading is not required for rebloom. Plants are known to self-sow and become invasive in tropical and subtropical areas. Exceptional salt and wind tolerance makes this a good choice for Ocean or seaside gardens.
Plant this tough ornamental in sunny beds and borders or containers. In tropical regions, where it will become a mounded, semi-woody shrub, it can be planted in mixed borders or as a foundation plant.