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November 18, 2017

QuestionWe live on 5 shady acres of land. We planted vinca major in many areas and it spread and thrived for 20 years but died out everywhere this year.  I read it might be caused by a fungus. Will it come back? Does the fungus only affect the vinca major? 

AnswerI need to know what the fungus was (if it was a fungus) and spray it in my yard!  While Vinca major is a groundcover commonly sold for a shade garden, it spreads prolifically and has become quite invasive.  My yard gets invaded every year from neighbors’ plants.  I would be very surprised if it did not come back next spring.


March 18, 2017


This vine keeps growing under our privacy fence from the neighbors' fence & will root in our yard. Is it a clematis or what? How do I control it?


Variegated Vinca Major 


The plant in question is variegated Vinca major.  Although it is still sold in many garden centers as a groundcover for the shade, you and I both know it is a noxious, and invasive weed—my neighbor’s back yard is solid in this and it comes to visit me every year.  Since we can’t control what is in our neighbors yards, all we can do it cut back and spray with Round-up on our side of the fence.  I lay down sheets of cardboard and mulch at the fence line after I cut it back and that helps for about a season, and then it starts coming back.  Many folks do love the purple blooms and ease of growth, but it is too vigorous for my tastes. 


May 7, 2016


I am one who innocently and ignorantly introduced Vinca major to the wooded border of my back yard about 10 years ago.  Starting with a single plant, we now have woodland coverage of about 40' x 50'.  I understand your view that it is invasive, and don't argue the fact.   What I also see in our specific situation is little-if-any competition, there is nothing here to be crowded out, I assume it is helping with erosion control, and it provides some green color in the winter.  But what stops it? Surely it must stop spreading at some point or we would be covered completely by now.  Removing it seems to be nigh on impossible.  Can its perimeter be planted with something which would corral it or even over-grow it, which would not be as bad or worse?  Is it always a bad plant?



From central Arkansas further south I would say it is always a bad plant, unless it is grown in a container or has a concrete barrier containing it.  Vinca major is not evergreen, but is only dormant for a short while.  The smaller leafed form Vinca minor is evergreen and not quite as invasive.  Vinca major is tenacious because it is a vining plant that thrives in the shade and can root wherever it touches.  You say it has no competition where it is growing, but that could be because it has killed out the smaller native wildflowers or groundcover plants that may have existed before it spread.  I work diligently every season to contain mine—and I never planted it—my neighbor did many years ago.  No one maintains their current planting, but that doesn’t stop it from growing, and it tends to like my yard better than his, since I water my yard.  Every year I think I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, but then the next spring it is back stronger than ever.  Cold weather contains it further north, and full sun will limit its spread as well, but other than that, watch out.   Using a physical barrier such as a concrete border or sheet metal in the ground can help, but it is pretty resourceful.



QuestionLast summer, we moved into a new house, and planted Vinca and jasmine as ground cover on a hill in front of our house. Since that time, large weeds with leaves approximately l-2" in diameter have begun to grow in the spaces between the Vinca and jasmine. We have poisoned the weeds twice, carefully avoiding the groundcover. However, the weeds have continued to grow not die, so I have 3 questions: If the winter weather kills the weeds, what can we do to keep the weeds from coming back in the spring? And what can we use that will not also kill the Vinca and jasmine? What can we do to promote growth of the groundcover?

AnswerIf the weeds are broadleaf weeds, there is no post-emergent spray that will kill the weeds without damaging the groundcover. If you know what the weeds are, you could determine whether they are annual weeds or perennials. Annuals can be controlled with a pre-emergent herbicide such as Surflan. If they come back this year, take a sample to your county extension office. Fertilize your groundcover this spring when new growth begins with a high nitrogen fertilizer to help it fill in more quickly.


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