Vinca Alternatives

March 30, 2011 — 1 Comment

Vinca choking out my irises

Vinca flowers close up

Vinca (aka Vinca Minor, Periwinkle, Myrtle)

I use to LOVE vinca. However that love affair is long gone as I try to extract it from my garden. Don’t get me wrong, it has a place in larger yards where you want minimal maintenance in shady spots and you don’t want to grow anything else with it. However in my small plot of land it has got to go! It is my own fault, I loved it at my parent’s house and my mom brought some to our house at my request about 8 years ago.

Things to love about Vinca:

-The beautiful blueish-purple flowers that bloom in the spring alongside the daffodils
-The green carpet that it provides year around in either sun or shade.
-Unlike ivy it doesn’t grow up trees and shrubs

Things to hate about Vinca:

-It is aggressive and forms large tendrils that block out everything else including bulbs and perennials
-It grows into the adjacent beds
-It is difficult to pull up because it attaches to the ground at so many points, you almost always have to come back later in the season and the following year to pull more out

Now I am in year 2 of a several year plan to extract it! In the meantime I have put together a list of bulbs to replace it. The good news is that most of these are easy to grow and fairly inexpensive. They won’t typically provide any  of the “ground cover” capabilities, but in my case I am not looking for a ground cover so much as a flower alternative to the blueish-purple flowers in the spring. In fact most of these will die back by summer and you won’t even know that they are there. The only  downside to me is that with these type of small bulbs you don’t want to put them in until after most of your perennials are in place, otherwise you will be constantly pulling them out by accident (which means I haven’t been able to put any in yet).


Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) from White Flower Farm, 50 for $16.95

Dwarf Iris, Harmony from Brent and Becky's, 50 for $17.50

Crocus, White Flower Farm, 50 for $21.25

Anemone 'Blue Shades', Brent and Becky's, 50 for $14

Fall Bulbs:

-Muscari (Grape Hyacinth): Flowers at the right time and easy to find in the fall,  but I don’t love the appearance of the flowers. Plant in Full Sun to Part Shade.
-Dwarf Iris: I  haven’t tried these but it is definitely a possibility. I grow a number of other irises. Plant in Full Sun.
-Crocus: Comes in purple, blooms at the right time, although the squirrels love these. Plant in Full Sun to Part Shade.
-Anemone Blanda: I particularly like the “Blue Shades” pictured. Plant in Full Sun to Part Shade.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria), White Flower Farm, $17.95

-Lungwort (Pulmonaria): If you are looking for more of a groundcover for the shade I would recommend Lungwort.  It has beautiful polka dotted leaves and has purple and pink flowers in the spring. I use this quite a bit in the backyard. These grow quite easily and can be divided every couple of years. I recommend finding a gardener who has some of this because typically they would be glad to pass some along.

And the Winner:

Chionodoxa growing in my lawn

-Chionodoxa (Glory of the snow): Comes in Blue and Purple, small similar flower shape to the vinca, tends to self-seed (there are a couple growing in our lawn right now!), SIGN ME UP! I think these are perfect and I might even need to extend these into the lawn! If you do a websearch you can see some wonderful examples of large fields full of these. Plant in Full Sun to Part Shade.

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  1. Blooming This Week: Daffodils, Lungwort & Chionodoxa | Stately Kitsch - April 8, 2013

    [...] It is VERY aggressive, but I have had a soft spot for it due to the purple flowers. It is actually one of the first things I wrote about when I started the blog. So 2 years later, I think the chiondoxa is a good choice, although I need A [...]

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