Ground cover myrtle

(Question)

Hello.
I have some myrtle beside the sidewalk which I have had for about 4 years. However, this spring it is all brown and looks dead. It does get a lot of snow and salt. Will it come back?
Thanks

(Answer)

Common plant names often create confusion in the botanical world. Different plants may share the same common name while having their own botanical name. Myrtle is the common name of several plants. I believe that you are speaking of the ground cover Myrtle (Vinca spp.) which also has two varieties Vinca major – Periwinkle and Vinca minor – Dwarf periwinkle. Both of these plants are among the hardiest of the evergreen ground covers, hardy to Zone 4. It can be so hardy that it is considered invasive in certain areas.

That said, we have had one of the toughest winters in our area for plant material in many years. It may be that we haven’t had consistently warm enough temperatures yet for your Vinca to return to a growing cycle, especially if it is not situated in a sunny location. Try breaking off a piece of the plant material to check and see if there is green flesh, which would indicate life in the plant. Vinca is know to have a fairly high tolerance for salt, so I don’t believe that that would be the problem. It may just require a little more patience to know whether your plants have succumbed to winter kill or are just slowly slowly coming out of their winter dormancy.