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Titan periwinkles earn an '07 Mississippi Medallion
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Periwinkle planting time is here, and you have got to try the 2007 Mississippi Medallion award-winning Titans. The Titan periwinkles really live up to the name in vigor and performance.
The botanical name of periwinkles is Catharanthus, which means pure and without blemish. That is how you will feel about the Titan series. You may remember them as Vinca rosea, but the official name is Catharanthus roseus.
The Madagascar periwinkle is a colorful plant that withstands summer heat and has few insect problems. A little-known fact is that this periwinkle contains alkaloids used to help treat leukemia. Researchers discovered the cancer-treating properties when periwinkles were being tested for their reported anti-diabetic properties.
Periwinkles come in a range of colors including white, lavender and pink, and some have colored eyes. There are seven Titan colors and a mix in this new series that is sure to capture a sizeable market-share.
Titan made its debut with Blush, which has a light-rose color with a deeper rose eye. The one known as Burgundy was very impressive in Mississippi State University trials. You will notice that the Titan periwinkles have by far the largest flowers you have ever seen on a periwinkle.
Next in the Titan series came Punch, which is a deep-rose pink; Polka Dot, which is white with a red eye; Lavender with a blue halo; and Lilac.
One of the most attractive features of the Titan periwinkle is its foliage. The leaves are dark green and glossy, contrasting with the gorgeous flowers.
The periwinkle is an outstanding plant if we avoid planting too early before the soil has warmed, making now just about perfect. While we may suffer from the heat and want to go indoors later this summer, these troopers will make beautiful beds.
Choose a site in full sun, and plant in raised beds for drainage and aeration. Despite their tolerance of heat, periwinkles hate wet feet. Pay close attention to planting depth. Planting individual plants too deeply exposes the roots and stems to unfavorable growing conditions and increases the potential for disease.
Mulch properly to decrease the amount of water splashed from the soil to lower stem foliage. Mulch your Titan periwinkles to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Periwinkles are drought-tolerant once established, so don't over-water.
The Titan periwinkles make for a stunning display in a cottage style garden when partnered with plants like the Serena angelonia, another 2007 Mississippi Medallion award winner. They also fit the tropical-style garden where they can be planted with bananas or allamandas. Try them in mixed containers as well.
The Titan series represents the first periwinkle to receive the Mississippi medallion award that began in 1996. This is the 44th winner in the program. The Mississippi Medallion award program is sponsored by the MSU Extension Service, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Mississippi Plant Selections Committee.
Look for the new Titan series at your local garden center now.