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Periwinkle: a color, a flower.
The periwinkle color, a sort of vaguely greyish light blue-violet, owes its name to the flower vinca. Vinca is a genus of plants belonging to the Apocynaceae family. It is native to Europe and the tropics and includes perennial, erect or creeping herbaceous species. The common name of this kind of plants is, like the color, periwinkle. The periwinkle is a plant appreciated for the beautiful grassy carpets that it forms and for the beautiful blooms that begin in spring and last throughout the summer. The origin of the scientific name is unknown: some sources indicate that it derives from the Latin vincire (= to bind), because one of its characteristics is the plant's ability to anchor itself to the ground with a large number of roots; other sources believe that the name derives from vincus (= flexible), due to its thin and flexible stems.
Origin and characteristics of periwinkle
The genus vinca or, as it is commonly called, periwinkle, is native to Europe and the Tropics and includes seven species. Vinca is an evergreen, herbaceous or shrubby plant. It may be hardy or not, it may have a creeping or erect development. Its flowers bloom from spring to late summer. The flowers are tubular: they are formed by five elongated or roundish lobes of a color that varies according to the species and the varieties. The varieties of periwinkle are blue-lilac, purple or pink. Periwinkle is considered toxic because it contains vincristine, an alkaloid that blocks the formation of the mitotic spindle, essential for cell division without which the chromosomes fragment and the cell dies. In case of taking parts of the plant the symptoms appear within the first 24 hours: nausea, vomiting and fever. Late symptoms appear in the first week and include headache, insomnia, delirium, hallucinations, neuropathies, convulsions and coma.
The cultivation of periwinkle
The periwinkle needs a lot of light: it must be kept in full sun and receive lots of air. The optimal temperatures are around 21 ° C (up to 29 ° C) in summer and around 16-18 ° C in winter. The plant suffers below 15 ° C. In summer it is better to keep the plant outdoors, even in full sun. The plant, with the right humidity and the right positioning exposed to light, will bloom very abundantly from spring to summer; some species bloom until autumn. It is a perennial plant that, in case of mild winter temperatures, if kept at home in the light can and resume its life cycle in spring. The periwinkle must be watered abundantly from the spring and for most of the autumn without letting the water stagnate in the saucer. In autumn and winter little water is watered, just to keep the soil moist. To avoid stagnation, small pieces of earthenware are placed at the bottom of the pot, which help drain the excess water. Periwinkle is repotted every year between January and March: it moves from smaller vessels to larger vessels; the soil must be fertile with a slightly acid reaction.
Periwinkle color: care of periwinkle and its meaning
The periwinkle must be fertilized every two weeks throughout the growing season, from spring to autumn. The most suitable fertilizer must be rich in nitrogen and contain phosphorus and potassium; also iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, Molybdenum must be present. The periwinkle must be trimmed to form a bush, leaving the stems 10 cm high from the base. The periwinkle represents a new friendship, spiritual harmony, loyalty in relationships perhaps because it is a plant endowed with adaptability to different climates capable of developing easily. A bouquet of periwinkle blue-lilac, purple or pink means that you feel love for those who receive it. In Italy the periwinkle is also called Centocchio or Cento occhi and is considered the flower of death because it was once used to weave the flowers in a garland to be placed on the coffins of dead children.