Growing Periwinkle Plants: How Care For Vinca Rosea

Catharanthus roseus, more commonly known as vinca rosea or periwinkle, is an evergreen shrub that produces glossy green leaves and beautiful blooms in shades of pink, white, or purple.

Though it’s native to Madagascar, this easy-to-grow plant is a popular choice for gardens worldwide.

Growing Catharanthus RoseusPin

There are many reasons to love periwinkle, but one of the best is that it’s such a low-maintenance plant.

In fact, with just a little bit of care, you can keep your vinca looking its best all year long.

Quick Facts On Catharanthus Roseus

  • Family:  Apocynaceae
  • Light: Full direct sunlight
  • Temperature: 60° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water: Water at least once a week
  • Fertilize: Plant food (growing and gestation stage)
  • Propagation: Sow seeds (late winter or early spring)
  • Common Problems: Aphids, yellowing leaves, drooping leaves

Catharanthus Plant Care

Here are some tips on how to care for your Catharanthus roseus plants.

How Big Do Vinca Rosea Plants Grow?

Vinca plants can range from 6″ to 8″ inches tall, depending on the variety.

The more compact varieties are often used as groundcovers, while taller ones make lovely borders or accent plants.

When Does Vinca Rosea Flower? Are The Flowers Fragrant?

This plant blooms continuously from spring until early fall, with each Winca rosea individual flower lasting about a week.

While the flowers are lovely, they only have a faint scent. Where they lack in smell, they make up for color variety and beauty.

Expect your plant to have pink or white blooms, with some varieties boasting purple or red flowers.

What Are The Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?

The periwinkle does best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Therefore, if you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to grow your periwinkle in a spot that gets some afternoon shade to prevent the leaves from scorching.

How And When To Water And Fertilize Periwinkle?

This plant thrives in full sun to partial shade and in well-drained soil.

In addition, it’s relatively drought-tolerant, so you don’t need to worry about watering it too often.

In fact, too much water can be harmful to the plant.

A good weekly watering should be sufficient.

Fertilize your periwinkle about once a month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.

You can add compost or manure to the soil to provide extra nutrients.

Nitrogen is essential for periwinkle plants, so use a fertilizer with high nitrogen content.

What Is The Best Soil for Catharanthus Roseus And When Should You Transplant?

Catharanthus Roseus plant prefers well-drained, sandy soil, but it will also do fine in clay or loamy soil as long as it’s not too wet.

Ideally, you can use ready-mixed potting soil that contains some organic matter.

If you have heavy, clay soil, you may want to consider planting your periwinkle in a raised bed or on a mound to improve drainage.

You can transplant a periwinkle around February or March if the weather is not too cold.

Does Periwinkle Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?

This plant doesn’t require any special grooming or maintenance.

Simply remove any dead leaves or flowers as needed. You can also trim back the plant if it starts to get too leggy or straggly.

If you want to prep the periwinkle plant for winter, cut it by 2″ to 4″ inches in late fall. 

This will help prevent the plant from getting too woody and encourage new spring growth.

How To Propagate Catharanthus Roseus?

This plant is easy to propagate from seed. Sow the seeds in late winter or early spring using a sterile potting mix.

Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot and keep the soil moist but not wet. The seeds should germinate within 2 to 4 weeks.

You will see a beautiful flowering plant in three to four months.

You can also propagate periwinkle from stem cuttings. 

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Take a healthy plant’s 4- to 6-inch cutting in late spring or early summer.
  • Remove the lower leaves and dip the cut end in a rooting hormone.
  • Plant the cutting in a pot filled with sterile potting mix and keep it moist.

The cutting should root within 4 to 6 weeks.

Catharanthus Roseus Pests And Diseases

This plant is relatively disease-resistant but can be susceptible to root rot if the soil is too wet.

You may also see some leaf spots or powdery mildew if the plant is not getting enough air circulation.

The main pest you may see on your flowering plant is the aphid. These small, green insects can suck the sap out of the leaves, causing them to turn yellow or brown.

You may also see ants crawling on the plant, as they are attracted to the aphids’ honeydew.

To combat aphids, spray the plant with water or use an insecticidal soap.

You can also try planting marigolds in your garden, as they tend to repel aphids.

Is The Vinca Rosea Plant Considered Toxic or Poisonous To People, Kids, Or Pets?

Yes, this plant is considered toxic to humans and animals if ingested.

In addition, the sap of the plant can cause skin irritation in some people. If you have pets, you may want to keep them away from this plant.

Be extra cautious if you have dogs or puppies, as severe poisoning can occur if they eat any part of the plant.

In addition, the vinca alkaloids in the plant can cause the following symptoms in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center if you suspect your pet has ingested this plant.

Is The Vinca Rosea Considered Invasive?

No, this plant is not considered invasive. However, vinca rosea can self-seed and spread rapidly if the conditions are right.

If you don’t want it to spread, you can deadhead the flowers before they go seed.

You can also try planting it in a pot or container to prevent it from spreading.

Suggested Catharanthus Roseus Uses

This plant is a beautiful addition to any garden, whether you plant it in the ground or a pot. It’s perfect for filling in gaps in borders or as an accent plant.

You can also plant it in mass for a stunning display of color.

This plant is also perfect for cutting gardens, as the flowers make beautiful bouquets.

This is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a plant that will attract butterflies and bees to your garden. The flowers are very appealing to these pollinators.

No matter how you use it, this plant will surely add beauty and interest to your landscape.