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Invasive Plants Series: Vinca / Periwinkle

Both Common (Vinca minor) and Bigleaf (V. major) periwinkle are still widely available at garden centers. They do make a great groundcover, have pretty lavender-blue flowers in spring, and have been planted in landscapes across the country since the 1700's.

However, at least 13 states now consider these plants to be invasive, including Pennsylvania. It's blooming on roadsides across the state right now.

I will admit, before I knew better, I also planted periwinkle. And have spent the last two years gradually removing it and replacing it with native groundcovers (which are also much more interesting!).

As a groundcover for shady areas, periwinkle has moved into forested areas where it grows into a dense mat, shading out other plants and displacing natives. It can also climb trees, although not as extensively as other non-native vines like ivy.

Removal methods include pulling by hand and using herbicides. To reduce the amount of herbicide required, manually remove as much as possible by hand pulling or mowing, and then spray the new growth. I have had success with only hand pulling plus regularly checking for new growth.

Sources: DCNR, Invasive Plants Atlas


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