Easy-Care Madagascar Periwinkles

April 8, 2005

HERE’S a tropicalhome-gardenornamental thatmerits a gold medalfor beauty andenvironmentalfriendliness.Known as rose orMadagascar periwinkles(Catharanthusroseus),these lovely flowersare seen inmost regions ofthe country ascommon patio ornamentals. In Spanish,they are called mariposillas or chavelitas.Although Madagascar was the originalhome of the rose periwinkle, it is nowfound naturalized around the world intropical climates. The flowers come inmany colors varying from pure white andpastel rose to violet, red or orange. Theybloom most of the year, while the glossy,evergreen, opposite leaves provide adense cover for planter boxes, flowerbeds,foundation plantings and as borders forwalkways.THE Madagascar periwinkle is one ofthe hardiest home-garden ornamentals,requiring little care or maintenance. Sincethey are insect and bug resistant, they donot require risky and expensive pesticidesor fungicides. Periwinkles grow in a widerange of well-drained soils and thrive onthe typical red-clay soil so common in thetropics. Additions of homemade organiccompost will keep your periwinkleshealthy and blooming throughout theyear; however, over-fertilization can resultin heavy foliage production and poorflowering.Periwinkles grow well in full sun orpartial shade, making them versatile forplanting locations. Leading nurseriesaround the country offer a wide variety ofcolorful periwinkles, but you can also trystarting them at home from woody stemcuttings or seeds. Neighbors may be willingto supply you with young seedlingplants that emerge beneath mature plants.Young cuttings and seedlings shouldbe started in flats or cups in partial shadeand watered regularly. As the plantsbecome well rooted, slowly introducethem into full light conditions, so they canbe transplanted to their permanent sites.Once they are well established, there’s notmuch more to do than enjoy their beautifulblooms around the home.IT’S interesting to note that theMadagascar periwinkle is a virtual cornucopiaof useful alkaloids. Recently,extracts from these plants have beenshown to be effective in the treatment ofvarious kinds of leukemia, skin cancer,lymph cancer, breast cancer andHodgkin’s disease. A modern-day successstory in the search for naturally occurringanticancer drugs, the plant is now growncommercially for its medicinal uses inAustralia, Africa, India and southernEurope.Why not invite this award-winningornamental into the garden this year? I’msure you’ll enjoy the company. Until nexttime, happy gardening!For more information on tropical gardeningand medicinal plants, be sure tovisit www.thenewdawncenter.org or emailthenewdawncenter@yahoo.com.We have books, seeds and classes to sharewith you.

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Transformational travel in Costa Rica: Turning the flat world round
Costa Rica
405 views
Costa Rica
405 views

Transformational travel in Costa Rica: Turning the flat world round

Alissa Grosskopf - October 16, 2018

The sound of roaring water and the fear in my body drown out the encouraging shouts of my group behind…

Children: the future of shark protection
Changemakers
391 views
Changemakers
391 views

Children: the future of shark protection

Alissa Grosskopf - October 16, 2018

The nonprofit organization Misión Tiburón is strongly engaged in the protection of hammerhead sharks in Costa Rica. They hope to…

Trump warns Honduran president to stop migrants en route to U.S.
Immigration
1212 views
Immigration
1212 views

Trump warns Honduran president to stop migrants en route to U.S.

AFP - October 16, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. President Donald Trump warned his Honduran counterpart on Tuesday that he must stop a caravan of…