Wondering What to Plant in Extreme Heat? Vincas Are Summer’s Answer

Dannette Hunnel

Vincas are like hippies: carefree, free-spirited, brightly colored, wanderers, requiring little maintenance.

Vincas are our color savior here in the Valley of the Sun, with bright, happy summer colors available in white, lavender, pink, dark pink, and red.

Vinca Minor/Vinca Major are just a little different—a perennial periwinkles a groundcover and low to the ground. Check the labels. Both will work.

Vincas will grow in pots or in the ground. They turn into bushes, spread a couple of feet wide, and get 18 inches tall. Toward the end of the summer, they will get long and leggy. While they are perennials, returning often from self-sown seeds, you’ll probably be ready to pull them in late October.

Vincas will take full sun with a daily watering. A sprinkler system is recommended to spray at least 20 minutes twice daily or, if watering by hand, they take about four gallons per day per every four feet through October. They can survive on less if necessary, but they will be lacking in color on both their petals and their leaves and begin to look like runaway weeds.

Vincas don’t require fertilizer, but plant food for annuals never hurts.

The summer monsoons contribute to the spread of disease among vinca plants. They need to be in well-draining soil and should not be too tightly packed together. They like a little breeze through their legs. I haven’t experienced any major issues with vincas in my 36 years of Phoenix gardening. Pests that are common to vinca plants are the Phoenix standards: aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Whiteflies tend to come before the rains, so heads up, as they like the heat and humidity. Also, if your plants become dehydrated, they will attract white flies.

I mix tap water with vinegar and a splash of dish soap to spray at whiteflies or use neem oil.

So, for color and simplicity during our hottest months, vincas are your answer. Plant little hippies!