Vinca Minor as a hosta garden mulch

ryseryse_2004May 8, 2014

If you tell me not to do it, I won't. I have a huge area of Vinca Minor and it occured to me that maybe it could be a good natural ground cover in a new hosta bed I made in the fall. I plan to put down hay between the plants but wonder if the Vinca is a workable idea.

I don't use it anyplace else because it takes over but what about in a hosta bed? I tried Lamium 'White Nancy' in another bed and it grew right up over the hostas. Ditto for Johnnie Jump Ups. Those beds are now mature and self-mulching but this new one won't be there for a few years.

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sunnywood 5aChazyNY

Vinca is very aggressive . I would be afraid that it would choke out hostas particularly in the spring

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:15PM
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lavendargrrl(7b Apex, NC)

I wouldn't do it.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:49PM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

I got rid of most of my vinca minor and other invasive ground covers. It is too much hassel in keeping them in place. Note that any ground cover is a good place for slugs and voles to hide.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 6:25PM
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Vinca Minor (periwinkle) is fairly aggressive as are all ground covers worthy of the name. I have removed all mine but for the opposite reasons cited here. It simply did not grow aggressively enough to crowd out dandelions and other early spring weeds. It then was in the way preventing me from easily torching the weeds.

Periwinkle dies back in the fall and then grows again in the spring sprouting leaves along its vine like runners. However, during the time the leaves are gone, weed seeds (like dandelions) blow in and cause me some grief in the spring. With the periwinkle gone I have no trouble using a weed torch in spring to clear the weeds.

As an aside I have had the same problems with Pachysandra but with the caveat that USDA Zone 4 is likely near the limit of its range as it did not grow vigourously.

I have had much better success with lamium. And no success whatsoever with ajuga which seems to prefer a bit drier conditions.

I am mostly in fairly dense shade with early spring sun till trees leaf out around the end of May. Most shade is from pine and spruce - the soil is very acidic and I leave a fair littering of needles. It has proven to be a very effective slug deterrent. I use no mulch but I do use a weed wand to torch the few weeds every two to three weeks.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 7:53PM
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I have it but wouldn't recommend it. I rip bunches of it out of my garden beds around this time every year. It's never killed any of my hostas but it does grow through them at will... and it has quite a strong will.

I have a dedicated full shade bed where I planted close to a dozen hosta varieties and much prefer the way that bed looks to others where the vinca already had a presence. I designed and planted the full shade bed myself soon after moving here and once I'd laid down corrugated cardboard topped with bark mulch between the plants was far more pleased with how the bed looked compared to other beds where the vinca had a foothold.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 8:23PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Vinca minor stays green all year for does lirope and ajuga and thyme.

Just get more hostas and cram them all in there. ;-)


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:03PM
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The variegated variety is not as aggressive.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:11PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

A ground cover that works very well for me is Sweet Woodruff....I wish it would grow faster! Having said that, it's not too aggressive and the hostas look very pretty coming up through it. It IS hard to see the emerging pips in the Sweet Woodruff, so I can't let anyone walk in that area (probably would help if I'd get a path...).

Also, it seems to stay back in the shadier part of my garden...when I try to move some out to the sunnier part of the bed, that moved part only comes back the following year maybe 40% of the time...I stopped trying. I do love it.

Here is a link that might be useful: hosta forum discussion: vinca vs sweet woodruff

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:51PM
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OK, that's a no on the vinca. Sweet Woodruff is a little too tall for the hosta garden IMHO. Anything varigated (like lamium) distracts from the different hosta varieties.

Any ideas on a low solid green ground cover?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 8:28AM
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The local climate really does matter a great deal in terms of the aggressiveness of various ground covers and vines. Keep in mind that the USDA hardiness zone is not necessarily all telling in this regard.

Here, I am in USDA Zone 4 and have what folks in the southern USA call a short cool summer. There are between 110 and 120 frost free days in the growing season with only a handful of them with a daytime high above 30C (86F). Plants like Wisteria and Virginia Creeper are relatively easy to cut back and control.

But extend that growing season to 150-180 frost free days with a handful above 37C (100F), then aggressive plants can be a disaster.

Periwinkle is not a particular problem for me to grow, it doesn't do the job. And I agree, Sweet Woodruff in shade is a better choice in the north.

Don't rely totally on the hardiness zone - check out the other factors when choosing a ground cover.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 8:32AM
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mary4b(4b WI)

That's interesting Ryse-Ryse, my Sweet Woodruff is very's like a carpet on the ground at first and never gets more than 5" tall. I have it at the back of a garden where I don't have any small or even medium hostas, so in that regard in works great for me in my climate. Maybe it likes your yard more and grows taller.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 8:41AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

its up to you whether you do it ...

i wouldnt ...

but whatever you decide.. IT IS NOT A MULCH ...

words mean things ...


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:33AM
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I know it's not a mulch. I like to think of a mature hosta garden as self-mulching. I have other mature ones that absolutely no weeds grow in and eventually this one will be like that.

Today, I got 6 bales of hay and will use that. See???? I know what real mulch is.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:38AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Well,as Babka said,Vinca minor is evergreen down here,also. I have tons of it growing in my woodland garden,and though I do have a few hosta growing in there,they are very aggressive growing hostas,and the Vinca does not overwhelm them. It would be quite an undertaking for me to eliminate it,and not pratical,either.It was there when I first started the garden back in 2003,and it'll be there long after I'm gone,because it is relentless! I wouldn't recommend it,unless you want problems in the future. Phil

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:36AM
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I wouldn't do it although I've noticed the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum has a lot of it in their hosta glade.

I much prefer living mulch to the stuff you buy in bags. It covers the ground, chokes out the weeds, cools the soil and does what you would normally want a mulch to do. I don't have a problem calling it a mulch.

I have a lot of purple dragon lamium and I love it.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 11:45AM
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I have variegated Vinca Minor and like it. It is not planted in a bed and I agree that it could be a problem.

It will fill in quite nice in a little while

Not very big flowers.

Pachysandra has 2 basic types. Alleghany spreads very rapidly and has more of a flower (for a very short time). Terminalis is denser and much nicer (in my opinion)

It 'eats' large volumes of leaves, a good thing. This patch was contained for about 10 years with a 6 inch deep plastic edge guard. the lone tulip has survived 4-5 years inside the grasp of the ever expanding patch of Pachysandra. I plan to shear it at the edging and transplant some of it and kill the rest with Roundup. When it pokes up outside my established perimeter I will treat it with herbicide again. It will fill up any shaded area where planted but doesn't survive in the Sun. I like it.


This post was edited by jonnyb023 on Fri, May 9, 14 at 12:26

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 12:21PM
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zkathy z7a NC(7a NC)

Periwinkle is an evergreen here. In the spring I pull it out from around the base of all the plantings growing in it, both hostas and others. It is relentless, but it is slow and I feel it's pretty controllable. A friend who does a lot of back country hiking said he will occasionally come across three or so solid acres of periwinkle. He said he knows that means there was an old homestead in that area. All that is left is the vinca.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 2:05PM
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Corydalis gets my vote - hard to get started but once it is there it will not crowd out hosta.

I have used it in both Delaware and Virginia gardens without problems.

It does reseed everywhere but is good color blooms and greenery.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:34PM
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