The Q&A Archives: Invasive Vinca Minor

Question: We have surrounded our rose bushes with creeping vinca minor, not realizing that it was considered a invasive plant. This year a two year old Mr Lincoln rose bush has died and we are wondering if the vinca minor has strangled it's roots. Can you tell us if it's invasive enough to kill rose bushes?

Answer: There's a potential for any groundcover to cause the death of a shrub, not because the roots will strangle the plant, but because a groundcover can slurp up all of the moisture and nutrients before they have a chance to travel down to the roots of the shrub. In the case of vinca, which is shallow rooted compared to your rose shrub, I suspect this is what happened. Vinca is a terrific groundcover in the right places. It's thick and dense enough to crowd out weeds, and on slopes can help prevent soil erosion. Vinca can be controlled by cutting back the stems periodically, but this needs to be done as soon as you notice it is overstepping the bounds you've set for it. To remove vinca, you can just roll it up, roots and all, like a carpet. Use a spade to get a straight line started, then have one person roll while another coaxes the roots out with a spade. As long as you get the roots out, the vinca will not regrow.

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