If I asked you to name a flower that bloomed profusely with knockout color from June through September, you would have be hard pressed to come up with a half dozen. But this is precisely how you would describe Blue Angel scaevola and the partnering white selection called White Blessing.
Despite the fact that the scaevola has been around now for more than a dozen years, it is still not planted enough by the everyday gardener. Known botanically as Scaevola aemula, this Australian workhorse is a must for those hot summer flowerbeds where everything else starts to fade by mid-July.
Blue Angel and White Blessing are two relatively new scaevolas introduced by a company called Danzinger. When I saw them in trials they were most impressive in the sheer quantity of flowers. Of course my visual analysis was a moment in time. I wondered how they performed for the rest of summer. The answer was they were dynamic through September.
The scaevola gets its name from the Roman hero Mucius Scaevola, who demonstrated unparalleled bravery (and questionable judgment) by burning off his own left hand, the blossoms do slightly resemble a human hand. But the common name, fan flower, is more descriptive of the small blossoms.
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Scaevola does best given plenty of sun and planted in fertile, organic-rich, well-drained beds. Wet, soggy conditions are not satisfactory. 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 scaevola at the same depth it is growing in the container, spacing the plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Apply a layer of mulch after planting. Red mulch or fresh pine straw looks exceptional underneath the blue flowers.
They are very drought-tolerant once established in the landscape, but those in containers will need watering daily just like any other containers. Speaking of containers, the scaevola makes a fine addition to large mixed tubs. Feed scaevolas every four to six weeks with a light application of a 12-6-6 or balanced blend fertilizer.
In the landscape expect Blue Angel and White Blessing to be groundcover-like or semi-trailing reaching 8 to 10 inches in height. They partner well together but there are some other real dazzling combinations to be made.
Consider use Blue Angel with orange lantanas. This will be a partnership that will last not only all summer but allow you to go on vacation and comeback with welcoming flowers in the landscape.
White Blessing is a little more upright and would make a nice partner with blue flowers like the spiky Victoria Blue salvia. But because it is white it will work with any other color you desire. For a tough-as-nails combination use White Blessing with Purple Heart (setcreasea) or Purple Knight alternanthera. Either one will look good all summer.
Blue Angel and White Blessing are also both candidates to be planted street side at the mailbox where reflective heat is coming off the payment. There, either or both would look good with the mandevilla.
Check your garden center out for Blue Angel, White Blessing or one of several other great selections of the scaevola or fan flower. They will bloom all summer and you will be glad you did.
Norman Winter, executive director of The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, is the author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Contact him at: winternaba.org.