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Wojo's Gem vinca is a great spiller plant
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
It won't be long until you start thinking about designing your mixed containers, and when you do, remember Wojo's Gem. This exceptional variegated vinca gives an incredible performance as a spiller plant.
When we mention the formula of “thriller, filler and spiller” or “tall, small and fall,” I think sometimes we put too much emphasis on the thriller plant and let the filler be treated as an afterthought.
For a while, the word vinca brought to mind the Madagascar periwinkle, now known botanically as Catharanthus. Wojo's Gem is a variety of Vinca major, or common periwinkle, that we use as a groundcover, but I want you to consider it as a hot new plant for large, mixed containers.
Wojo's Gem offers the gardener great creamy-gold and green variegation on a vigorous groundcover or vining plant. It will hang gracefully from a basket or cascade over the rim of a mixed container. Combine them with colorful, blooming flowers like angelonias, salvias or any other flower that captures your fancy. Place larger plants in the middle of the container, then proceed outward, saving the vinca for an almost pocket planting.
Do much the same in a hanging basket. If using sphagnum moss-lined baskets, plant Wojo's Gem in the bottom of the basket, letting the foliage hang down. Hang the basket high enough to create a great vertical element, with the vinca growing downward 6 to 7 feet.
If you are lucky enough to have window boxes, you could not ask for a better cascading plant. A friend of mine used Wojo's Gem with Dragon Wing Red begonia, Melampodium and Diamond Frost euphorbia for a dazzling combination. In these containers, use a light, airy mix that drains well yet has good moisture- and nutrient-holding capacity. Heavy potting soil is not a good buy.
Necessary daily watering during the summer months means the plants will need more frequent feeding. Use controlled-release granules per label instructions, or use a diluted, water-soluble fertilizer with every other watering.
Wojo's Gem makes a great groundcover planting. Filtered light seems to give the best performance, although morning sun and afternoon shade are acceptable. Space them 8 to 12 inches apart. Cut them back if too large for a container or to increase branching. In the landscape, pay attention to moisture as they get established. Once established, these plants are fairly drought tolerant.
This is a great choice as groundcover under trees where roots have grown above the soil surface. They are cold hardy through zone 7, and many gardeners tout them as also returning in zone 6.
I have raved about the boldly variegated foliage, but also note that they occasionally will produce almost iridescent, blue-violet flowers. This is a wonderful combination with the variegated leaves.
Spring is coming, and a visit to your garden center will be a real treat this year. Remember to pick up some Wojo's Gem vinca for an artistic touch in your designer containers.