Tattoo Vincas

VIN Tattoo Black Cherry 10
The dark-eyed look of Vinca ‘Tattoo Papaya’

New to the market is the Tattoo series of Vinca from the breeding program at PanAmerican. These plants have been bred for a specific goal—flower pizzazz—but are built on the durable chassis of a Vinca. It’s a simple chocolate in my peanut butter idea that opens up possibilities once we explore what it actually means.

We must admit that the Vinca color selection has been stable for many years. Since Impatiens offers the same flower in the same colors, Vinca’s main role has been the preferred replacement in locations where Impatiens doesn’t work very well. When the look is an important part of the discussion Vinca hasn’t been our go-to, but the Tattoos are stepping out from the shadow of the Impatiens.

VIN Tattoo Black Cherry 2
The Tattoo Vincas: Black Cherry, Papaya, Raspberry, and Tangerine


A purple stain forms the large dark eye of the flower, creating the signature look of the series. It’s visible in all four colors: Black Cherry, Papaya, Raspberry, and Tangerine. Tattoos have an edgy look compared to the very respectable Titans, like the rock & roll teenage sister of a button-down, business-like brother—same family, different attitude.

Consider this fact: All the other Vincas look like Impatiens, but we can’t get the Tattoo flower from an Impatiens. A dark-eye with ragged edges is unique to the Tattoo series right now. If you want to make a splash in the decor market, it helps to have a signature look you can call your own.

VIN Tattoo Raspberry 3
Vinca ‘Tattoo Raspberry’ brings durable Vinca qualities to containers


Yes, the ragged eye dresses up the Vinca flower but we have lots of flashy material for designing containers, boxes, and planters. Why the Tattoo? Here Vinca’s underlying strengths comes to the fore.

Vinca is considered a landscaper’s best friend because of its tough, durable, and dependable nature. This is the garden we plant when we’re going for the Impatiens look but are faced with hot sun, dry soil, or less-than-prepared garden soil. There’s not much that bothers a Vinca once the cold weather leaves.

VIN Tattoo Tangerine 2
Vinca ‘Tattoo Tangerine’ has a white star in the center of its eye


It begs the question: Do containers need tough and durable plants? Yes, they do, especially if they are outdoors. This particular style of decor work is one of the most demanding in the business. In a high-stakes game where prestige is on the line, we are dealing with material that is surrounded by islands of heat, less-than-regular water, and variable weather.

Be it a wedding, conference, or opening, client emotions can run high while the environment works against the designer. In these situations, to quote Yoda, it’s “do or do not, there is no try.” Naturally we want great looking but durable and dependable need to go hand-in-hand with those looks. Employing the Tattoo strategy starts to make a lot of sense. If a design has to last a while, then the Vinca option looks even better.

VIN Tattoo Black Cherry 1
Vinca ‘Tattoo Papaya’ is the darkest of the four colors


Hot summer landscape performance is the Vinca forte, so you can use the Tattoos to roll out a more sophisticated version wherever you plant Vincas right now. Height is about 10 inches with each plant spreading about 6 inches, same as the Titans or Pacificas. Set them 7-inches off the center, give or take, in a diamond pattern and give them full sun, although they can handle some light shade.

Vinca thrives later in the season than Impatiens. It doesn’t have the same water requirements; it likes the heat, and needs much less maintenance than other types of plants. We found our Tattoos still blooming right before that big frost that brought down a lot of our trial beds.

VIN Tattoo Black Cherry 11
Vinca ‘Tatto Papaya’ in Ron's Bed at Field Day 2019


In commercial work, there are lots of awkward garden spots where we’d like to plant a nice garden, but it’s hard to keep it fresh. Tattoos offer a better look than Impatiens with the same dependability. If the local wildlife molests the plantings, again, the Tattoo offers a more attractive option.

A natural for container work, the Tattoo series offers a more sophistical look in deck railing boxes, whisky tubs, or other patio-based combinations where dependable performance and low maintenance are considered advantages. If you’re wondering about companions we find that darkly tinted plants, like red Celosia or Cocktail Begonias, play off the moody eyes. Going tall we recommend Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’, Coleus ‘Vino’, or Hibiscus ‘Mahogany’. For a showstopper look to one of the new Salvias like ‘Black and Blue’ or ‘Rockin’ Deep Purple’. To lay down a dark carpet, go with Alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’ or ‘Red Threads’.

VIN Tattoo Black Cherry 12
A close-up of the eye and flower form for Vinca ‘Tattoo Raspberry’


We would have to say the Tattoo Vincas are the strongest candidates for the decor and container market among all the Vincas we have grown. These are plants to put in the front of the garden center, place in a hospitality garden, or feature in a central park show garden. We are glad to see that Vincas are keeping pace with modern needs, and we expect to be growing even more interesting Vincas in the future.