Twenty years ago, something odd happened in the plant world. As I look back now, I realize it really kind of flew under the radar. In 1997, a new plant called “‘New Wonder’ scaevola” won the Georgia Gold Medal Plant, Mississippi Medallion and Louisiana Select awards. That trifecta was indeed quite rare. This little plant from Australia captured the imagination of the green industry with its fan-shaped flowers and rugged, persevering performance.
‘New Wonder’ scaevola has since won countless other awards, but now competes with more varieties than most of us could have ever imagined. I have always been partial to the varieties with various shades of blue. I always joke with my color designer son, James, and ask him, “Where is your blue?”
This year, however, other colors are catching my attention. ‘Bombay Pink’ has stunned me at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia. I am not a fan of pink, but ‘Bombay Pink’ performs like the perfect spiller plant in mixed containers, and packs the most flower power I have ever seen on a scaevola.
We have several in large containers that are mixed with blood leaf bananas, bromeliads, SunPatiens and ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra for a most exotic look. They all perform at a superior level.
Another I am watching is ‘Purple Haze’ scaevola. I really considered it blue until all of my photographs convinced me that it is indeed a rare shade of purple. We are using it with lavender SunPatiens and ‘Gold Mound’ duranta for an absolutely dreamy combination. We are also using it in the landscape with white pentas and pink ‘Telstar’ dianthus, which are still blooming as we head into July.
The last new selection that has caught my attention this year is ‘Surdiva Blue Violet’ scaevola. This one really does pick up the best of both blue and violet. It is compact, yet still has the ability to tumble over an edge. I promise it will have you asking, “How do you get that many flowers on one plant?” It is amazing and has “winner” written all over it.
One of my favorite combinations is ‘Surdiva Blue Violet’ partnered with the new ‘Sun Parasol Apricot’ mandevilla. I assure you that this pastel apricot and vibrant blue-violet creates a most rare partnership in the world of flowers.
Scaevolas do best when they are given plenty of sun and planted in fertile, organic-rich, well-drained beds. Wet, soggy conditions are not satisfactory. This is one of the reasons they are amazing in containers. They will do equally well in the landscape if you amend heavy soils or poorly drained locations by adding 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and tilling or shoveling to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
Plant your scaevola at the same depth it is growing in the container. Space the plants 12 to 18 inches apart or by varietal tag recommendations. Apply a layer of mulch after planting.
They are very drought-tolerant once established in the landscape, but they will need watering daily if they’re in containers, just like any other container plants. Scaevolas are the perfect front-of-the-border plant as they reach 8 to 10 inches in height and spread outward 18 to 24 inches. The blue shades do one other remarkable thing — they seem to almost glow as the sun sets for the evening.
If, for some reason, you have never tried scaevola in the summer landscape or your mixed containers, you are missing one of the best. They come in shades of blue, pink and white and are among the most durable of summer annuals.
(Norman Winter is the director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia.)
In the landscape, 'Purple Haze' scaevola works well with white pentas and pink 'Telstar' dianthus. In this photo, it makes a stunning partner for lavender SunPatiens and 'Gold Mound' duranta.Download Image
'Surdiva Blue Violet' scaevola combines wonderfully with foliage like 'Little Ruby' alternanthera and 'Gold Mound' duranta.Download Image