Fan flower (Scaevola aemula) is an excellent warm weather plant that is often grown as a summer annual. It is useful to grow in window boxes, hanging baskets, containers, or as a border plant.
Even if you are a seasoned gardener, you may not of heard of scaevola. It is a relative new-comer to the garden scene.
Scaevola cultivars are popular in the US due to their drought and heat tolerance and pest resistance.
If you live in a region with warm summers, and are looking for a plant to liven up the outdoor areas of your home, scaevola is a good choice.
Keep reading to find out how to grow this eye-catching beauty that has the ability to bloom in the dog days of summer.
Facts about yada
Scaevola – (pronunciation see·VO·luh) is a type of flowering plant with fan-shaped leaves that has a trailing habit well suited to hanging baskets.
Brush up on your knowledge of scaevola with these fun facts:
- botanical name – Scaevola Aemula
- family – Goodeniaceae
- type – evergreen tender perennial, often grown as a trailing annual
- native to – Australia and Polynesia
- common names – fan flower, fairy fan flower, scaevola, half-flower, and naupaka (the plant’s Hawaiian name)
- attracts – butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects.
One Hawaiian legend says that a woman tears the flowers of the fan flower plant in half after a lovers quarrel. The gods who became angered turned all scaevola flowers into half flowers and made the man search in vain for another whole flower.
Fan flower also does well in coastal gardens because they aren’t bothered by salty sea air.
If you are looking for a flowering plant that will add a pop of color all summer long, scaevola is a great choice.
Scaevola plant care
Fan flower is low-maintenance and easy to care for. Follow these plant care tips for best results.
Temperature and sunlight needs for fan flower
Scaevola likes at least 6-8 hours of sun a day. Some relief from hot afternoon sun is appreciated. Note that plants grown in shade will not flower as profusely.
Since these plants are native to Australia, they will grow well in warm and hot weather. If the temperatures fall below 60° F, they will slow down or even stop flowering.
Fan flower likes day time temperatures between 70° F and 85° F best, and temperatures of about 68° to 70° degrees F at night. High humidity is beneficial.
The thick stems ensure drought tolerance in full sun locations, even in triple digit temperatures.
Plant scaevola in the spring when the danger of last frost has passed and soil temperatures reach 65 ºF. Space them 12-18 inches apart to give the plant room to spread.
Watering requirements for scaevola plant
Scaevola is both heat and drought-tolerant which accounts for its appeal to gardeners.
Don’t over-water fan flower. Water and then wait until the surface of the soil is dry before watering again.
Plants left to sit in wet soil can attract fungus gnats and may be susceptible to root rot.
If you notice that your fan flowers are wilting, just give them a drink. This will quickly revive them.
A layer of mulch will help the soil retain moisture and reduce the chances of weed growth.
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Fertilizing and soil needs for fan flower
Scaevola is not particular about the type of soil that it is grown in, as long as it has good drainage. A mix of normal potting soil with added sand is good for container plants.
If your soil is particularly heavy or clay-like, compost or other organic matter can be added to make it drain better.
The ideal soil pH for scaevola is acidic. (5.5-6.0)
Scaevola plants require only light feeding with a well balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Do not use fertilizers that have too high a phosphorous level. (the middle number of the trio of nutrients.)
Iron sulfate deepens the flower color when used as a fertilizer.
Scaevola flowers and foliage
The flowers of a scaevola plant look as though they have been cut in half. The generic nickname “half-flower” means left handed in Latin. If scaevola is grown in a hot and humid climate, it produces a display of pretty fan-shaped flowers consistently from early summer until the frost hits.
Fan flower is a sprawling plant with lanced-shaped or oval light green leaves with slightly toothed margins on trailing stems.
The bloom time for fan flower is late spring through fall.
The dainty fan-shaped flowers of scaevola have five petals. They are most commonly blue but can also be purple, pink and white. Luckily for those who don’t like to deadhead, fan flower is self-cleaning.
The flowers are about 2-inch in size. If the plant becomes leggy, pinch back the stems to maintain a compact growth habit.
Growth habit and mature size of fan flower plant
Scaevola is fast-growing plant and will reach a size of 9–18 in. tall, and 1–2 ft. wide.
The plant has a sprawling habit which makes it spread easily and also makes it a good choice for ground covers, rock gardens or hanging baskets.
Fan flower can get spindly as the summer progresses. Force it to grow more thickly by pinching back the stems. It may need hard pruning by mid summer to stay bushy.
Use the pruned stem cuttings to propagate scaevola.
Problems, diseases and insects that affect scaevola
Scaevola plants are generally problem-free and they do not normally suffer from pests and diseases. If your plant fails, it is likely due to over watering or poor soil drainage.
Mealybugs can occasionally be spotted on scaevola, and too hot temperatures may attract thrips.
Be careful of spraying fan flowers with pesticides for insects. Scaevola is a good source of nectar for butterflies.
These growing tips for scaevola show that half a flower is better than no flower at all! In the case of fan flower, it is just as nature intended!
Is scaevola a perennial?
Scaevola plants grown in USDA cold hardiness zones 9 to 11 are considered tender perennial. In colder zones, fan flower is grown as an annual.
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Scaevola is normally purchased as a seedling in the spring once the soil temperatures have fully warmed up. You can also grow scaevola from seeds started indoors in very early spring.
When sowing seeds indoors, make sure to maintain a temperature between 70° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit until they take root. This can be anywhere from 30-60 days.
If you’re planting scaevola seeds outdoors, make sure that the soil has warmed sufficiently and there is no risk of frost.
Once you’ve planted the seeds, cover them with sandy loam.
Get new plants for free by propagating scaevola from half ripe stem cuttings in late summer. Let the cuttings dry out for a few days before planting them.
Varieties of fan flower
Although a relative new-comer to gardens in the US, scaevola is becoming more and more sought-after. Some popular scaevola varieties are:
- Scaevola ‘Blue Wonder’ – Blue flowers, 6-8 inches tall.\
- Scaevola ‘Bombay White’ – White flowers, 8- 12 inches tall.
- Scaevola ‘Fairy Pink’ – Pink flowers 6-10 inches tall.
- Scaevola ‘New Wonder’ – Blue purple flowers, 8-14 inches tall.
- Scaevola ‘Pink Charm’ – Pink flowers, 4 inches tall and 5 inches wide.
- Scaevola ‘Whirlwind Blue’ – Blue flowers 8 – 14 inches tall.
- Scaevola ‘Scalora Pearl’ – White flowers 8 – 14 inches tall.
- Scaevola ‘Scampi Pink’ – Pink flowers 6-10 inches tall.
Where to buy scaevola
Check out your local Big Box stores and Walmart, early in the spring to see if they stock it. I have seen it on the Lowe’s website but not for online shopping, so it may be available in their stores.
Another place to check is your local Farmer’s Market or small local nurseries to see if they have scaevola seedlings.
If you cannot find one locally, there are a few places online to find scaevola for sale.
- Romance Gardens has Whirlwind Blue
- Grow Joy Plants has Fashion Pink
- Plants Express has Mauve Clusters
Pin this post for growing fan flower
Would you like a reminder of this post for how care for scaevola? Just pin this image to one of your Pinterest gardening boards so that you can easily find it later.
Admin note: this post for scaevola first appeared on the blog in August of 2013. I have updated the post to add new photos, a printable growing tips card, and a video for you to enjoy.
- Scaevola seedlings
- Compost or organic matter
- Balanced fertilizer
- Watering can or hose
- Choose a spot that gets 6- 8 hours of sunlight and a bit of afternoon shade.
- If your soil is heavy clay, add compost or other organic matter.
- Space your plants 12-18 inches apart to give them room to spread.
- Water well until established. Then they are drought-tolerant.
- Be careful not to overwater.
- Prune if the plant gets spindly. Hard prune in late summer to keep a bushy plant.
- Propagate from half ripe stem cuttings.
- Bloom time is late spring through fall.
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