Particular signs of Vinca and its characteristics
Vinca is a group of species knows as “periwinkle” and they are native to the tropical area: its varieties are very different between each other and can be erect or creeping.
Seven types exist that can be more or less large. In any case they are low flowering plants, belonging to the Apocynaceae family, perennial and having flowers of a characteristic color. We do not know yet what is the origin of the name “vina”, even if the hypothesis that have been made refer to two different latin words: in the first case, the term derives from “vincus”, which means “flexible” and is tied to the fact that the stems of the plant are supple and thin. Instead, the second hypothesis makes the species' scientific name derive from “vincire” which means “tie”, referring to the root system that still firmly anchors the perwinkle to the floor.
Vinca is also called “baby’s eyes”, “ Madagascar’s periwinkle” or “betrothed”: these nicknames are born because in flower language the plant indicates fidelity in relationships and because on the five petals that make up the corolla there is an eye of a different color.
Because of its peculiar look vinca is widely used as and ornamental plant: it has shiny and bright leaves, in some varieties they are furrowed by veins; they are flowers of several tones and develop the tendency to grow in compact bushes that can reach 60-80cm diameter. Because of this it’s easy to find it edging flower beds, paths and balconies.
Due to the content of vincristine it’s toxic and can cause nausea, fever and vomit in the first 24 hours from its consumption. The late symptoms can be insomnia, headache, hallucinations, convulsion and, in some extreme cases, even coma.
How to cultivate and take care of the vinca plant
vinca is a robust and evergreen plant that adapts well to every type of soil: however, to have an ideal condition it is preferable to plant it in a mix of peat loam and garden soil. Alternatively, drained and soft soils are good too, obtained by mixing fertile soil, sand and dirt of leaves.
Watering must be frequent in the summer months (from may until august), but without creating stagnations that can cause the roots to rot. Manure must be added to the water every 15-20 days. At the same time, the products must have a high percentage of potassium and must be for flowering plants only. As for the vegetative period, (starting from spring until mid autumn), Nitrogen fertilizer must be administered every 14 days.
The bush look of vinca is accentuated by pruning that is done when the flower blossom: topping is recommended, so that the stems will reach a height of 10 cm and will flavor an abundant flowering in the following season. Even if it’s a resistant plant, vinca is sensible to low temperatures, especially to the tropic native species: because of this, it is advised to grow it in a pot and take it in the house to shelter it, if during winter the temperatures reach below 1°C. In summer, instead, house plants should be exposed to the sun, so that they can develop better, It is very difficult for them to be affected by diseases and parasites, however it’s suggested to pay attention to the fact that stagnations are not formed in the soil or on the pot.
In fact, in this case it is very easy for mold to form on the roots and that the plant remains damaged or even dies.
Curiosities on Vinca
Vinca is a much loved species for the colorful turfs it forms in spring.
From its flowers derives the name of the “periwinkle color”, a particular shade of light blue - violet. It indicates spiritual harmony and friendship, while gifting a bouquet of pink, violet or lilac blue periwinkle is a declaration of love to the recipient. Moreover, during the middle ages and still today in modern folklore periwinkle are used to prepare love potions. Also for this reason, tradition wanted these flowers to be scattered as the spouses passed.
In Italy, vinca was also a funeral flower, because garlands were made of it to be placed on the coffins of dead children.