Sunday, May 1, 2011

Vinca Minor, Free And Easy by Caroline Reardon

Do you have a shady spot in your yard that needs ground cover to hold back the erosion or to just cover a bare spot? If you or a friend are lucky enough to have a mat of thriving Vinca minor, you can easily propagate enough starts at home to solve your problem and save money to buy those spectacular plants you dreamed about over the winter.

Vinca minor, also known as periwinkle or creeping myrtle, propagates itself by putting out runners that take root in the soil, much as a strawberry plant does. You can use these runners to create healthy starts for those bare places in your yard. They will spread more quickly in areas that receive more water, and grow well in partial sun to full shade. An extra bonus‚this perennial remains evergreen throughout the winter.

 On the outer edges of the existing ground cover "crop" you will find the young, newly rooted Vinca runners which are the plants' most vigorous growers. Locate a clump and dig it up with your trowel. Shake it lose from the undergrowth and other roots and lift it out. Locate the clump's primary runner, which goes back to the mother plant, and snip it free with scissors.

You may find one clump can be snipped into three or more little rooted plants. Separate their roots, trim off any long stems and plant them in individual small pot with good soil mix.

Pinch off any flowers so all the plants' energy will be directed to developing good root systems in their new homes.

Water carefully so as not to disturb the roots and place the pots in a pan to catch any water runoff. Move them inside to a location with indirect sunlight.

 To keep their environment humid while rooting, cover the plants with plastic wrap. Mist them lightly every few days and check your little starts regularly to make sure the soil isn't drying out. Water if necessary.

 After about three weeks, gradually withdraw the plastic wrap and then take the plants to a shady area outside for several days to harden them off. Pop the Vinca out of their pots and transplant into the bare spots you'd planned for them, leaving  6"-8" between plants. Mulch to retain moisture and remember to water these little starts regularly for the first year as they get established.

Your home-grown Vinca minor starts will spread to become a lovely mass of shiny-leafed ground cover with periwinkle blue blossoms within a year or two, all for free.