How Does Your Garden Grow – May 2014

Scaevola is a hardy annual.

Scaevola is a hardy annual.

Louise Grabell

I love blue flowers. Someone once said that blue flowers mean sex. I must have a really sexy garden because of the blue irises, salvias, scabiosa, asters, etc. But one really stands out as the sexiest blue flower you ever saw: scaevola [Scaevola aemula]. This is a very hardy annual and in fact has survived the winter as you can see in the photo of the ones I potted last year in April. Some sources list Scaevola as winter hardy in zones 10 to 12 which includes our region depending on exposure and altitude—and which book you read! Some sources give us a zone 9 rating because we are in the high desert.

Scaevola is a native of Australia and despite its delicate appearance it loves our dry heat all summer long. It is excellent as a container plant, especially in those pots you forget to water! These beautiful blue beauties will survive your neglect and never disappoint you. Sometimes called Blue Fan Flower, it is commonly found in hanging baskets in garden centers. Scaevola also comes in white and the combination of the two is quite attractive as they cascade over the sides of the container. The one you see in the photo was purchased as a pink variety but since last April it has morphed into the blue variety. Don’t know if it’s a soil issue or some influence from the other plants in the same pot.

If used as bedding plants Scaevola should be planted in the front of the flower garden and given plenty of space to spread. The stems will continue to grow for the entire summer producing new foliage and a profusion of fan shaped flowers. New Wonder is a variety you may find in garden centers but variety doesn’t matter as none will disappoint. All will thrive in our hot summer climate and a half day of shade will do wonders for this plant. Mine are growing on the east facing side of my house so they are out of the sun by 1:00 p.m. However, a full day of sun should work just fine.

Scaevola don’t have any serious disease or insect problems either, making it an even sexier plant for your garden! I must admit it’s not always easy to find this plant so call ahead before you run to the local nurseries. It is said that cuttings can be made from the tender branches but I have never tried this as a method of cultivation or over wintering. Call me lazy but I’d rather buy some new ones each year. Suit yourself!

The Master Gardeners of SaddleBrooke has a website: for all up to date information and events for our community. Garden questions? You can reach our SaddleBrooke Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 407-6459. Your phone call will be forwarded to a Master Gardener Volunteer who will assist you in the solution of your problem.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.