An overwatered Vinca‘s foliage droops, wilts, turns yellow and eventually dies if you delay in guiding it through the recovery steps. Diseases like the blight or leaf spot are most common in overwatered Vinca plants as they manifest in excessively soggy soil.

Guide to Reviving the Dying Vinca

These diseases cause the leaf surfaces to develop dark brown or yellow spots which take away the Vinca’s natural beauty. If your plants are going through overwatering problems, do not panic as this recovery guide will lead you right out of this mess.

Why Is My Vinca Overwatered?

Your Vinca plant is overwatered due to factors like compacted or heavy soils, poor container drainage, weather changes, too frequent watering, and improper use of catch dishes and pebble trays.

Vinca plants’ heat and drought tolerance are very high so they can survive and grow well with little watering.

– Compacted or Heavy Soils

Once you apply water to heavy soils, it will not drain quickly. A growing medium that is compacted has little or no spaces between the soil particles. In this case, when water is applied, the few airways available will cease to function due to prolonged saturation. The Vinca’s root system will not tolerate long hours of suffocation which leads to their quick demise.

Good airflow in the soil discourages fungal development which ultimately keeps the plant’s roots safe from rot. You should note that rot spreads to the stem of the Vinca plant as the infection grows.

Such an extent of rot is very difficult to reverse and you end up losing the whole plant. When attacked by Pythium and Phytophthora, you will see black veins appearing along the stem as well as black or brown spots on the leaves.

You should avoid high clay composition when creating a potting mix for your Vincas. Clay holds water and discourages air circulation due to its fine particles that easily compact. Keep in mind that, the more you water heavy soils, the more compacted they become. As a result, you will see your plant’s health deteriorating as time goes on.

– Poor Container Drainage

Drought-resistant plants grow best in well-draining pots. Their root systems are very sensitive to continuously soggy conditions that cause them to get damaged. Regardless of having used a fast-draining potting mix, if the water does not drain out of the system smoothly, your plants get overwatered. The limited availability of efficient escape routes keeps the soil saturated with excess water which gives birth to fungal development.

You should have a combination of well-draining soil and a pot that has excellent drainage facilities to help your Vincas to flourish. Having noticed some overwatering signs and you find the soil’s porosity excellent, also inspect the drainage holes of the container.

To achieve this, wait for the growing medium’s top two inches to dry up completely, and deeply irrigate the Vinca plant. If the soil gets overly soaked up yet there are little or no signs of water dripping out from the base of the container, its drainage facilities are poor.

You should consider adding more or enlarging the available holes to increase the pot’s drainage efficiency. In the case of blocked holes, you should reopen them with a pathogen-free tool.

– Weather Changes

High temperatures and sunlight presence are associated with an increased rate of water loss from both the soil and plant. This is the case with the growing seasons where watering should be more frequent to balance the high rate of moisture loss and replenishment.

As you approach the cooler seasons, a long space of time should be given to the soil before irrigating again as the rate of moisture loss declines. If you continue watering the Vincas consistently without considering the weather changes and the soil’s moisture levels, you will be overwatering the plants.

Reasons of Overwatered Vinca

Vincas actively develop during spring and summer when sunlight and temperatures are high. This also contributes to the quick water loss from the growing medium which in turn dries up fast.

In cooler seasons, their development becomes stunted and they will no longer need much water for their upkeep. Also, if you consistently irrigate the Vinca plant without conducting a moisture test when the weather gets cooler, overwatering will result.

Bear in mind that water in the growing medium is not only lost through drainage. Part of it is taken up by the plant and is lost through transpiration. Water is also lost in the atmosphere through evaporation.

As the weather changes, water loss is also affected. You should also note that the high humidity present in the immediate environment suppresses moisture loss from both the soil and the plant.

– Watering Frequency

If you irrigate Vincas more frequently than necessary, water-logging problems will not spare your plants. The moisture levels in the soil’s first two or more inches determine whether it is time to irrigate or not.

If you water the soil before its first two inches have not lost moisture completely, the Vinca’s roots will stand in continuously wet soil. This condition gives birth to fungi manifestation which keeps growing in population if you take too long to amend the situation.

That period when the growing medium is highly saturated with water after irrigation causes oxygen starvation to the Vinca’s roots. This implies that too regular irrigation will prolong the roots’ exposure to oxygen-starved soil leading to their early death.

It is therefore important to use a soil type that drains much faster maintaining a slightly moistened situation at the same time. In your quest to keep the soil slightly moist, try not to underwater your Vincas as they curl up their leaves, wilt, and dry up.

We recommend you water Vinca plants during the early hours of the morning. This allows the growing medium to lose excess moisture much more quickly during the course of the day thereby maintaining the best growth conditions.

If you irrigate the plants during the night, low temperatures and no sunlight situations discourage quick water loss which ultimately keeps the Vincas in water-logged conditions. All in all, you should irrigate mature Vincas at most once every week during summer, but the soil’s first two inches should be completely dried up first.

– Catch Dishes and Pebble Trays

The dishes or trays that you place below the pot to catch the dripping water can cause serious problems to the plant if you do not monitor them well. The distance between the base of the container and the water matters most. If by any chance the pot gets in contact with the drained water, overwatering happens.

As the water pools at the bottom of the pot, Vincas will be forced to absorb it excessively which ultimately saturates the leaf cells. If the cells get to a point where they can no longer take more water, they burst. A leaf with torn cells develops dark lacerations and eventually drops off.

Pebble trays also have the same effect on your Vincas if you do not keep a close eye on them. If the pebble tray is positioned in such a way that the base of the plant’s container or root strands can access the water, overwatering symptoms begin to manifest.

– Controlling Pests Using Water-based Methods

Some pest control methods are supportive of overwatering. For instance, if you hose pests off using a strong stream of water, your potting soil will become wet.

If the watering and pest control sessions are separate, then the results will be more or less similar to those of too frequent watering. Therefore, your pant will sit in water.

How Can I Bring Overwatered Vincas Back to Life?

You can bring an overwatered Vinca back to life by amending or changing its care requirements completely. Of course, it depends on the extent of damage incurred. Usually, rot infections are common in ground-grown Vincas compared to the potted ones. 

It is much more difficult to keep the ground well-drained, especially during the rainy season. If overwatering signs are being exhibited by your potted plants despite sitting on well-draining soil, a little adjustment of its growing conditions should be done.

– Overwatering Assessment

The damage inflicted by overwatering on a Vinca plant can either be mild or serious. You would not want to waste the overwatered plant’s valuable limited lifespan by carrying out unnecessary actions to save it. Once you notice that the plant is severely affected, you should quickly opt to deal with its roots and repotting. If it is mildly affected, you should check the drainage abilities of both the container and the growing medium.

When the Vinca has already been invaded by rot pathogens like the Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Phytophthora, isolating it is the way to go. This step is also important if the plant is pest infested.

– Reduce Irrigation

You should cut back the watering frequency whether you are growing your Vincas in pots or directly to the ground. Use the finger test where you should dip it into the soil to ascertain the available moisture levels. This moisture test method is cost-effective and applies to potted plants.

When grown on the ground, you can use the scratch test. You should use any suitable gardening tools to scratch the first inch of the soil to check if it is dry enough or not. Water the soil only if you find the first inch completely dry.

When the top inch is completely dry, the underneath parts of the soil will be mildly moist which is not bad for Vinca’s upkeep. When grown on beds, remove mulch if available to increase evaporation.

If you find the topsoil still moist, the soil underneath will surely be water-logged. If the soil is taking too long to get rid of excess water, check the drainage qualities of the container. Unblock all debris-packed holes so that the pot re-establishes its drainage efficiency. Depending on the situation, you can consider enlarging or increasing the number of holes on the pot.

– Separate the Plant From its Pot

Take out the plant from its pot and gently wash the roots with running water. Once the roots are dry, check them for any damage. Usually, plants that are showing signs of wilt despite adequate moisture presence have bad root health. When damaged, the roots’ efficiency decline which consequently cuts water and nutrient absorption. In this case, all rotten roots should be trimmed off to give the plant a new start.

Overwatered Vinca Solutions

When the roots are dry, take a pair of scissors or shears and dip them in rubbing alcohol for disinfection. Look for any dark, brown, or mushy roots and prune them. The aforementioned features are signs of rot and should be eliminated from your plants. No matter how many bad roots there are, remove all of them and leave only the healthy ones.

You should also balance the size of the foliage with the remaining roots. Trim down the excess foliage targeting the diseased and pest-infected ones first. In this case, the roots can be able to support the few leaves and stem effectively. If you do not prune excess foliage, the roots will concentrate more on providing for the well-being of the foliage rather than their own development.

– Repot the Vinca Plant

Make a well-draining soil mix by combining gravel, sand, pine bark chunks, mulch, and clay pebbles. Fill the soil mix into a pot making sure that the bottom layer is made up of two to three inches of clay pebbles or gravel. Most importantly, the container should have efficient drainage.

Replant the Vinca flower and deeply water it. Now, for bed-grown Vincas, irrigate only when the soil’s first inch dries up. You should get used to the “water needed wilt” where you irrigate the plant when its leaves begin to sag down.

It is through this way that the plant shows you that the water in its system has depleted. Make sure the space between your plants is large enough to aid smooth air circulation.

Please do not rush to apply fertilizers to the recovering Vinca plant before it gets established. The salts that come with fertilizers may finish off the already troubled root system. However, new growth should start appearing in a week or two of proper care.

Overwatered Vinca Back to Life


Vincas are fairly easy-to-care-for, but you should be watchful of their care needs especially, on the watering aspect.

Below are the most decorated highlights of this article.

  • The factors that cause Vinca overwatering include soil drainage, weather changes, container drainage, watering frequency, and poor use of catch pans and pebble trays.
  • Prolonged water saturation in the soil reduces the roots’ access to adequate oxygen.
  • You should start by limiting the watering frequency and removing mulch when the Vinca is grown directly to the ground to allow quick evaporation.
  • You should consider isolating an overwatered Vinca especially when you notice signs of pest and disease inversion.

This article should equip you with the much-needed knowledge to save your dying Vincas and become a master gardener. You just should be patient and follow these recovery steps to complete the revival mission successfully.


  • Edward F. Gilman, Teresa Howe, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen. CATHARANTHUS ROSEUS PERIWINKLE, MADAGASCAR PERIWINKLE, VINCA. University of Florida.
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