Family: Apocynaceae

Scientific Name: Catharanthus roseus

Common Name: ABCs of Madagascar Periwinkle, Vinca, Periwinkle


Madagascar periwinkle (Caranthanthus roseus) is a plant that has gained in popularity. Vinca looks like Impatiens but unlike Impatiens, they tolerate full sun, drier conditions.

Plant TypeTender perennials often grown as annuals, Site author's observations, Perennial Tender
Hardiness ZoneTender annual
Sunlightfull sun
Moistureaverage to slightly dry, never soggy
Soil & Siteaverage
TemperatureI always make a joke that the Madagascar Periwinkle can sense when a frost is coming. It is not cold hardy, dying at the first light frost. Avoid planting earlier than Memorial Day in Zone #5. Since this plant will die at the first hint of frost.
FlowersThe first time I saw this plant I thought it was a plants of Impatiens. At that time there was only white, pink, and rose, now there is a large pallet of colors including grape, orchid, raspberry, blush, lilac, peach, red, cherry, etc and a few bicolors. The 2" flowers have 5 petals found at the crown or leaf axils. A small hole in the center (eye) contains the stamen and pistil.
Leaveslance-shaped leaves, glossy green.
Dimensions8-16" tall depending on cultivar
PropagationCan be a difficult plant to grow from seed. Young plants are not tolerable of wetness or cool conditions. Can be rooted from cuttings.
Native SiteNative to Madagascar.
Misc FactsIn the 18th century, it first appeared in France at Paris Jardin des Plains. At this time Madagascar was a French possession. AKA: Vinca Pacifica Apricot, Vinca Pacifica Apricot, Burgundy and White, Grape Cooler, Pacifica Icy Pink
Author's NotesWhen attending an Environmental Workshop with a group of students, the key note speaker was talking about how from native plants chemicals where discovered that are used in treatment of many different diseases. If the plant species is lost the potential to discover these chemicals will be lost. He alluded to the fact that he had Leukemia and was cured because of the chemical vincristine. Vincristine is extracted from Madagascar periwinkle
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