What’s not to love about annual vinca? An array of colorful blooms held above glossy foliage is a win for any situation. One of annual vinca's claims to fame is its ability to spectacularly perform on even the hottest days of the summer.
Annual Vinca Characteristics
Annual vinca can be trailing or upright. Trailing vincas are a great option as a spiller out of a container or hanging basket. Upright varieties work well in mass plantings, especially in landscapes where you're looking to make a big impact with little maintenance.
Vinca flowers are suspended over glossy, emerald green foliage. Many cultivars are described as "with eye." These varieties feature one color in the center of the bloom that fades out to a main color. Flower colors can be pink, red, white, or purple.
Even though new varieties of annual vinca are small, the amount of blooms produced on one plant has nearly doubled. The smaller size of these new varieties also makes the plant easier to manage and great for container plantings.
Annual Vinca Care Must-Knows
Since annual vincas are native to Madagascar, they need the summer heat to thrive. Full sun is best, but they can take part shade if there's good air circulation. If an area is too stuffy, the plant can develop fungal problems. Vinca can also stand up to drought.
To start vinca from seed, sow and cover the seed with a light layer of soil. Keep the soil consistently moist during germination. Keep vincas out of cold areas; the plants will be slow to start without the heat they know and love. Vincas can also be started from cuttings but require high humidity and bottom heat to start.
It's important to note that the sap from vinca is poisonous. Interestingly enough, this plant produces compounds that kill cancer cells. Studies show that the discovery of these compounds has increased the likelihood of survival in leukemia patients.
More Varieties of Annual Vinca
'Jaio Dark Red'
Catharanthus 'Jaio Dark Red' produces rich magenta-red flowers on one-foot-tall plants.
'Mediterranean Deep Rose'
Catharanthus 'Mediterranean Deep Rose' produces rich magenta-rose flowers on trailing plants perfect for containers.
'Pacifica Burgundy Halo'
Catharanthus 'Pacifica Burgundy Halo' produces deep red-pink flowers with a large white eye. It grows 12 inches tall.
Catharanthus 'Pacifica Punch' is an award-winning selection that produces deep rose-pink flowers with a magenta eye. It grows 12 inches tall.
'Pretty in Pink'
Catharanthus 'Pretty in Pink', an award-winning variety, offers soft pink flowers on compact one-foot-tall plants.
Plant Annual Vinca With:
Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and once you get a good look at it, you'll know why. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach one to two feet high, but they're studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. This tough plant blooms all summer long, with its spikes of blooms adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. Most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, but it is perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter.
Calibrachoa (Million Bells)
Like a tiny petunia on steroids, calibrachoa (also called million bells) grows and flowers at an amazing rate. Often confused for a petunia, million bells makes a splash no matter where you put it in the garden. It is perfect for containers or hanging baskets but also can be tucked into the front of a border where it will spill out onto sidewalk or patio. In fact, it may be the ultimate "spiller" for container gardens as long as you give it ample water and fertilizer, which it needs to fuel its astounding growth. Shown above: MiniFamous Compact Red calibrachoa
Lisianthus flowers make people ooh and ahh. Some varieties of this annual look like a blue rose. It's such an elegant flower you'd never guess it's native to American prairies. And lisianthus is one of the best cut flowers—it will last in the vase for two to three weeks. Lisianthus can be challenging to grow. They're extremely tricky to grow from seed, so start with established seedlings. Plant them in rich, well-drained soil in full sun after all danger of frost has passed. Keep moist but do not overwater. Taller varieties of lisianthus often need staking to keep their long stems from breaking, but newer dwarf varieties are more carefree.