Periwinkle is a color belonging to both the blue and purple family.
Also known as “lavender blue”, the color periwinkle is a predominantly light or pastel blue shade with hints of lavender or violet in varying degrees of vibrancy.
Periwinkle flowers actually refer to several species of flowers that are most popularly used as an evergreen groundcover thanks to their ability to grow underneath trees and shrubs.
However, there are other species of flowering plants that exhibit similar colors to the lavender blue shades of periwinkle flowers.
Whether you’re looking to enhance your knowledge of flowers or if you want to spruce up your backyard garden, here is our guide to periwinkle flowers!
Vinca Major ‘Variegata’
Also known as the ‘big periwinkle’, this vinca major cultivar is a mat-forming perennial (or often a sub-shrub) that produces sea green leaves with a distinctive variegated pattern in ivory or yellow.
Alongside these leaves are distinctive periwinkle flowers that grow up to 5 centimeters across, which is fairly large for a periwinkle flower.
Big periwinkle plants are popular due to their ability to suppress the growth of weeds, which is why they make a great groundcover amongst a flower bed or underneath shrubs or trees.
Vinca Minor ‘Bowles Variety’
Also known as the ‘lesser periwinkle’, this vinca minor cultivar is a mat-forming perennial that always blooms fantastically large lavender blue flowers from spring to summer.
They will also continue to flower intermittently throughout summer to fall, which is ideal for brightening up dark spaces in a garden.
Interestingly, despite their mat-forming structure, Bowles variety is less aggressive than other periwinkle cultivars. Still, this flower is ideal for suppressing weeds.
White Periwinkle ‘Gertrude Jekyll’
Also known as ‘Jekyll’s periwinkle’, the white periwinkle is a distinctive evergreen groundcover plant that produces (you guessed it) fabulous pure white flowers.
White periwinkle is most commonly grown underneath trees, shrubs, or larger flowers thanks to its love for growing in shade, as well as its ability to suppress weeds.
White periwinkle, or Gertrude Jekyll, is a type of vinca minor that is surprisingly more compact than other lesser periwinkle cultivars.
Vinca Minor ‘Azurea Flore Pleno’
Another mat-forming perennial, azurea flore pleno is a stunning periwinkle cultivar that produces double purple blue flowers that vary in vibrancy and richness.
The double formation of the flowers stands out against most other periwinkle cultivars, making for a seemingly clumpy and almost messy flower.
With a dark green foliage and purple blue flowers that bloom from spring through fall, azurea flore pleno is ideal for brightening up a garden year-round.
Vinca Minor ‘Atropurpurea’
Atropurpurea is one of the darkest periwinkle flower cultivars, producing fascinating dark or rich purple flowers that make for a moody backdrop in a garden.
These wide-spreading evergreens also feature dark and rich green flowers, which is why it is commonly planted amongst brighter flowers to add an interesting contrast.
This periwinkle cultivar will bloom from spring to fall and will maintain its foliage throughout the year. It will eventually grow up to 10 centimeters tall and 1.5 meters in its spread over the course of about 5-10 years.
Vinca Minor ‘Sterling Silver’
Another popular groundcover for shaded areas, the sterling silver vinca minor cultivar produces blue (and often dark blue) flowers that stand out against the deep green variegated foliage with creamy white margins. This cultivar is compact and grows quickly, and with the right care, it can live up to 10 years.
The sterling silver periwinkle is surprisingly tolerant of urban pollution, making it an ideal flower to grow in the backyards of cities and busy towns.
Vinca Minor ‘Alba’
A prostrate evergreen perennial, the alba periwinkle cultivar consists of long stems, ovate and perfect dark green leaves, and single pure white flowers. This cultivar is commonly mistaken for Gertrude Jekyll, though alba produces far more flowers.
Unlike a lot of periwinkle cultivars, these flowers prefer to grow in full sun or partial shade, which is when you’ll get the most of their spectacular bloom. They are most commonly grown as groundcover or on banks or slopes.
Vinca Major ‘Reticulata’
Vinca major ‘reticulata’ is commonly known as the standard periwinkle flower. With a maximum height of approximately 30 centimeters, this cultivar is a mat-forming evergreen perennial that produces the classic lavender blue flowers that are most commonly associated with periwinkles.
Vinca Minor ‘Illumination’
As the name suggests, the illumination vinca minor cultivar is known for its distinctive bright green or yellow foliage that contrasts with the vibrant violet blue flowers.
The leaves are typically variegated with a darker margin, making for an attractive foliage that grows throughout the year. The flowers typically grow from the middle of spring to the start of fall.
With a growth rate of about two-thirds of vinca major cultivars, the illumination cultivar is one of the smallest periwinkle flowers, which is ideal for smaller gardens or empty spaces in a flower bed.
Also known as the intermediate periwinkle, vinca difformis is a Western European native flowering shrub.
This cultivar is a mat-forming plant that produces white (or often whitish-blue) flowers from winter to spring, making it a great addition to a garden during the late year to provide a splash of color.
Before it blooms, however, vinca difformis is often mistaken for a vinca major thanks to its large, rich green leaves.
Vinca Major ‘Oxyloba’
Vinca major oxyloba is certainly one of the most unique periwinkle cultivars on our list. As a vinca major cultivar, it can grow up to 30 centimeters and with an indefinite spread, making it an excellent groundcover plant.
From spring to late summer, it will bloom violet blue flowers with thin, sword-like petals, resembling the propellers of a vintage plane.
The star-shaped flowers contrast with the dense green foliage and large leaves. Its ability to grow in sun or shade makes it ideal for a variety of gardens.
Vinca Minor ‘Blue And Gold’
Also known as the creeping myrtle ‘blue and gold’, vinca minor blue and gold is a mat-forming prostrate flower that produces fantastic purple blue flowers from spring to autumn.
As the name suggests, the purple blue flowers contrast amongst the yellowish-green leaves, creating something like a blue and gold effect.
Vinca minor blue and gold is one of the smallest periwinkle cultivars, with an average height of 0.2 meters and a spread of 0.45 meters over the span of 5 to 10 years.
Vinca Minor ‘Moonlit’
Another mat-forming prostrate, vinca minor moonlit is an evergreen perennial that bears double lavender blue flowers from spring to summer.
Alongside these flowers are ovate, glossy green leaves that are variegated with a lighter (mostly yellow) outer edge. This variegation is what gives this cultivar its name of ‘moonlit’, as well as the moody double lavender blue flowers.
With the ability to grow in sun or shade (though it flowers best in sunlight), vinca minor moonlit can be considered an invasive periwinkle cultivar when grown in the ideal conditions.
Vinca Minor ‘Ralph Shugert’
Also known as the creeping myrtle ‘Ralph shugert’, this cultivar is a trailing evergreen shrub that consists of glossy green leaves with white edges, and bright violet blue flowers that bloom between spring, summer, and intermittently throughout fall.
With its ability to suppress weeds and grow in shaded areas, this cultivar is ideal for growing in darker parts of gardens.
Vinca minor ‘Ralph shugert’ was awarded the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society, making it one of the most popular periwinkle cultivars amongst horticulturists!
Vinca Minor ‘Dart’s Blue’
A popular evergreen groundcover, vinca minor dart’s blue features mat-forming small and pointed green leaves and light lavender blue flowers. These are delicate flowers that will scorch in the sun, which is why they will happily grow in areas of partial and full shade.
It’s common for this cultivar to bloom 4-10 flowers per square yard, which is why it is often considered an invasive species when grown in the right conditions.
Vinca Major ‘Wojo’s Gem’
A greater periwinkle variety, vinca major wojo’s gem is another prostrate evergreen sub-shrub.
This variety consists of creamy yellow variegated leaves with a dark green margin, as well as the classic periwinkle lavender blue flowers. While it blooms from spring to fall, the flowers appear less in summer.
As a vinca major cultivar, wojo’s gem has the ability to grow up to 18 inches tall with an indefinite spread when grown in the right conditions.
So, there you have it! Turns out, there are countless types of periwinkle flowers. While each cultivar can look fairly similar, there are two key categories of periwinkle flowers – vinca major and vinca minor.
As the names suggest, vinca major consists of large periwinkle cultivars, while vinca minor refers to the smaller cultivars.
With their ability to suppress weeds and grow in the shade, periwinkle flowers are most commonly grown as groundcover or underneath shrubs or trees. As deer and other animals don’t typically consume periwinkle flowers, these cultivars are ideal for growth in rural and woodland areas.