Invasive Plant Spotlight: Vinca

Periwinkle (Vinca minor and Vinca major) is a vining groundcover that is native to parts of central and southern Europe in the regions of France, Portugal, and Turkey. It is believed to have been introduced to North America in the 1700s. It is an evergreen plant with thick glossy leaves that grow opposite of each other on the stem. There is a variegated variety of vinca as well. It grows a few inches tall in height and blooms spring and summer with purple flowers.

It will re-root itself at its leaf nodes, which means it easily spreads and can cover large areas of ground. It will compete with other plants by forming a dense mat, eventually crowing them out and growing over them. It can grow in nearly full sun or dense shade which also gives it an advantage. It can climb and attach itself to trees. It is currently an invasive plant in 13 states throughout North America.

Vinca is still sold in garden centers and is often used by landscaping companies as a groundcover to fill in large areas. It is an easy plant to grow and inexpensive plant to purchase, which makes it more appealing to use.

Vinca can be physically removed by pulling the vines from the ground ensuring the roots are removed. It can take several successions in order to remove all the roots. There are herbicides that can aid its removal, but physically removing it as much as possible is a good option for homeowners. Consult a local professional with a chemical license or your local extension office for more information about its removal.

Vinca can be replaced with native groundcovers such as: wild ginger, wild blue phlox, or native sedges (carex species).