Catharanthus roseus or as most gardeners call it, flowering vinca, is an erect, tender plant that can grow up to 4 feet tall. It is frequently planted as an annual but readily self-seeds in Zone 8. It is tough in the face of many conditions, especially poor soil, dappled shade, and drought.
The foliage is glossy and flowers range in color from white, rose, pink, coral, or red. Flowering vinca is great in a flower bed, rock garden or containers. It will provide instant color no matter where it grows. Clip off the terminal end of the plant’s main stem to encourage branching. Fertilize throughout the summer to encourage growth and consistent blooms.
Flowering vinca is readily available at garden centers. Be sure to purchase only vincas with healthy green leaves to avoid introducing disease into the garden.
Flowering vinca is susceptible to Phytophthora stem blight. Dark brown to black lesions will form on stems causing wilt and die back. Water management is the main preventative measure. Frequent watering, even in moderate to dry sites, can make conditions favorable for development of blight and root rot. Flowering vinca is drought tolerant so water only as needed. Avoid over fertilization and provide excellent drainage. If blight occurs, remove the plants immediately and the remaining plants can be treated with a fungicide.
Photos and information by Jeanne Pavero North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox