Are you looking to add a touch of charm to your garden? Look no further than creeping myrtle, also known as vinca minor. This evergreen groundcover is adorned with beautiful blue flowers that bloom in the spring. Let’s delve into the world of creeping myrtle and learn how to care for it in your garden!
Creeping myrtle, also referred to as ground myrtle, lesser myrtle, or periwinkle, possesses an innate allure that can be found in most home improvement stores during spring. Its evergreen foliage and delightful blue flowers are perfect for adorning the shady bare spots in your garden. However, it’s worth mentioning that this plant can be invasive, which means it may overpower other plants and hinder their growth by stealing sunlight and soil nutrients. So, remember to keep an eye out for any rogue stems!
But don’t be discouraged by its invasive nature. If you have a dry, shaded area in your garden that seems barren and void of life, consider planting creeping myrtle there. It has the potential to fill those empty spaces with greenery and add a touch of enchantment to your garden.
Understanding Creeping Myrtle
Creeping myrtle, scientifically known as Vinca minor, is a mat-forming plant that stands at a modest height of around six inches. Its trailing stems have the ability to climb when given the opportunity and spread roots wherever they touch the ground, ensuring its rapid growth.
With dark green, glossy foliage, this evergreen perennial produces lavender, blue, or white pinwheel-shaped flowers in the spring. In some cases, these flowers may bloom for a second time in early fall. However, it’s important to note that creeping myrtle may lose its evergreen status in extremely cold climates.
Varieties of Creeping Myrtle
Although creeping myrtle goes by various names, it doesn’t have any recognized subspecies or varieties. It is closely related to another plant called Vinca major, which shares similar growth habits and makes for an excellent groundcover in shady areas. However, Vinca major is less cold-tolerant and has smaller, lighter-green leaves compared to Vinca minor.
It’s also worth mentioning that creeping myrtle is not a true myrtle and doesn’t belong to the Myrtle plant family. There is another plant called Catharanthus roseus, which is also referred to as myrtle or periwinkle. Despite its resemblance to creeping myrtle, Catharanthus roseus thrives in tropical climates and should not be confused with the hardy Vinca minor.
Planting Creeping Myrtle
The ideal time to plant creeping myrtle is in early spring, before it begins to bloom. This usually falls in April and May. However, you can still have success planting it from summer through fall as long as you water the plants regularly after planting.
When it comes to choosing the right spot for planting creeping myrtle, it thrives best in partial shade. However, it can also tolerate sunnier locations, although the leaves may turn yellow under direct sunlight. Planting it under trees and shrubs in areas that lack sufficient sunlight for grass growth is a great option. It can also serve as an excellent weed suppressor in shady open areas.
Creeping myrtle is quite resilient and can tolerate poor soil and dry conditions. However, it flourishes when provided with moisture and planted in fertile ground. It’s important to choose the planting site carefully to prevent creeping myrtle from overpowering other plants or taking over your yard. You can also grow it in hanging baskets or containers to keep it from spreading by rooting. Another option is to confine it within an area bounded by concrete walkways or other solid boundaries.
Planting Creeping Myrtle
You have a few options when it comes to planting creeping myrtle. You can start from seed, but be aware that it will take 12 weeks or more for them to reach a suitable size for transplanting. An easier method is to purchase flats of vinca minor plants from a garden center or divide clumps of established plants and relocate them.
To propagate creeping myrtle through division, dig around a clump of plants in spring when the soil is moist and lift them out along with their roots. The roots are shallow and will easily come free from the ground. Immediately place the clump in its desired location, ensuring it is set at the same depth as before. Firmly pat the soil around the plant and water thoroughly.
If you wish to cover the area quickly, set the plants 12 inches apart. Alternatively, if time is not of the essence, space them out 18 inches apart, allowing for a gradual filling of the area. Over time, the long stems will weave together, forming a lush mat of greenery.
Caring for Creeping Myrtle
Creeping myrtle is a resilient plant that requires minimal care. It is not often bothered by pests and can thrive without irrigation, except in drought conditions. In soils rich in organic matter, it can even forego the need for fertilizer.
However, if you desire a truly magnificent display, water your creeping myrtle during hot weather and extended dry periods. Occasional fertilization with a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer will also enhance its growth. Remember to water the plants after applying the fertilizer to ensure it seeps into the ground.
Dealing with Invasive Vinca Minor
It’s important to note that Vinca minor is highly invasive and can pose a threat to other plants by overpowering them. To prevent its rampant spread, it is advisable to confine the plant within areas bounded by concrete pathways or other structures.
In some locations, planting creeping myrtle is prohibited due to its invasive nature. To determine if there are any restrictions in your area, you can check with your local county agricultural agent’s office.
If you find yourself needing to get rid of creeping myrtle, cut the plants down to the ground and cover the area with a thick layer of wood chips, cardboard, or black plastic. Secure the edges with weights or landscape staples. Leave the covering in place for a few months, depriving the plants of light and air, effectively killing them.
Frequently Asked Questions about Vinca Minor
Q: Will creeping myrtle survive in full sun?
A: While creeping myrtle prefers partial shade, it can tolerate sunnier locations. However, be mindful that the leaves may turn yellow if exposed to prolonged direct sunlight.
Q: How often should I water creeping myrtle?
A: Creeping myrtle can tolerate dry conditions but appreciates regular watering, especially during hot weather and extended dry periods.
Q: Can creeping myrtle grow in poor soil?
A: Yes, creeping myrtle can thrive in poor soil conditions. However, it will benefit from fertile ground to reach its full potential.
For more information and expert advice on gardening, visit the Ames Farm Center website.
With these insights into growing magnificent creeping myrtle, you can transform your garden into a captivating oasis. Embrace the beauty of this versatile groundcover and enjoy its mesmerizing blue blooms. Happy gardening!