Catharanthus roseus, also known as Madagascar Periwinkle is a pretty blooming plant with delicate pink-white flowers that bloom throughout the summer, even under drought and low-water conditions. This perennial Madagascar native thrives in the summer heat of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 and does not tolerate frost. The plant is easy to grow and self-cleaning, making for practically care-free blooming until Thanksgiving in warm regions.
Madagascar Periwinkle is native to Madagascar but is cultivated and naturalized in most of the tropical world and in warmer climates in the United States. It can be found in a variety of woodland, forest and grassland locales, but one of its primary uses is a bedding plant in highway medians or commercial landscapes.
Madagascar Periwinkle also makes a striking clumping plant for home gardens as ground cover, in beddings or edgings or in containers.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Unlike many other plants, Madagascar Periwinkle is best suited for poor, well-drained soil and may even fail to thrive in soils that are too fertile. These plants need regular moisture but don't do well with overhead watering.
Madagascar Periwinkle is easily propagated with semi-ripe cuttings planted in light compost with bottom heat and high humidity, or by seeds kept in the dark at 71 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 25 degrees Celsius) until germination.
The leaves may curl during the heat of the day but recover with evening dew. The flowers drop off after blooming and don't require deadheading.
Madagascar Periwinkle is generally resistant to serious outbreaks of diseases and pests. Stem rot, leaf spots, wilts and aster yellows are some of the more common pathogens. Typical pest infestations come from aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. Diseases, which usually present as discolorations or spots, can be controlled by using certified disease-free plants and avoiding overwatering. Pests can be prevented by avoiding high levels of nitrogen fertilizer and the overuse of pesticides that also kill beneficial insects.