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02/25/18- Trailing Periwinkle

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

Well, it seems that spring has sprung in the south! All of a sudden, temps are warm and the woods are beginning to look alive again. From Forsythia to Pear trees, everything is beginning to bloom and put on this year’s foliage. It is very exciting to see after the dead of winter, but not all the blooming flora is beneficial. For instance, Periwinkle is making its comeback and I am none too pleased.

Vincas, or Periwinkles, are very long, winding vines that have small unique leaves. This leaves can be solid green or they can be variegated (green and white tie-dye). The weave their way through sidewalk cracks and around objects and can be up to 3 feet long. Their trailing nature makes them very popular in hanging baskets or around trellises in homeowner’s yards. However, once established this invasive species is nearly impossible to get rid of (I know from experience)!  The little heart shaped leaves look so delicate and sweet, but don’t let them fool you. This vine is very hardy and can withstand all the elements! In early spring, the vine begins to put on purple flowers that have a pinwheel shape. The flowers are very sweet and dainty and will lure you into planting vincas all over the house. The vine then weaves and bobs some more until it develops into an uncontrollable thicket. It will die off in the winter and you will think that you have finally gotten rid of this pesky species, but then it will come back and before you know it, it will be 100 feet long again. It can survive in shade or in sun and it roots at nodes. Surprisingly, this hardy little vine came from Europe and began its journey in the U.S. as ground cover. It is still a very desirable ornamental to oblivious gardeners, making it common in every single state.

Before you put anything in the ground (at your house, hunting camp, or wherever), make sure you know everything about the plant! You cannot judge a plant by its delicate purple flowers. Although sweet and dainty to the eye, Periwinkle will cause a lot of headaches and you will go broke buying chemical to try and kill this vine. I personally do not know of any chemical that will eradicate this invasive…I have tried them all!

By: Red Clay

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