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How to Care for a Scaevola Plant!

Beautiful purple scaevola flowers in summer bloom

Genus Scaevola

Plants are simply incredible. Though there are some that can be wildly high maintenance, there are others that will absolutely thrive even if they are completely neglected. There are also certain plants that can thrive in areas that others wouldn’t even think about growing in..

Let me introduce you to the genus scaevola. Though they do prefer to live in the height, they can tolerate all sorts of hostile conditions like extreme drought, intense summer heat, and salty spray and salty air. These tough flowering plants should be number one on your list if you live in an area like that! They are amazing for garden beds, outdoor containers, and hanging baskets.

Scaevola plants go by all sorts of nicknames, including fan flower plant, half flower plant, or naupaka — which is its Hawaiian name. It is called a fan flower because of a Hawaiian legend, which tells the story of a woman who tore a flower in half after a quarrel with her lover. The angered gods turned all of these flowers into half flowers, leaving the woman’s lover in constant search of the other half of her torn flower.

Scaevola plants are part of the goodeniaceae botanical family and there are over 130 different species to choose from. Though they vary in height, shape, and flower color, they all have that same super low maintenance quality that gardeners love! Read on to learn all there is to know about scaevola plants.

What do Scaevola Plants Look Like?

Amazing bright purple flower clusters of the scaevola plant

Growth Habit

Scaevola plants have a super dense and shrubby growth habit. They develop wonderful mounds of foliage and flowers from tons of leggy and branching stems.

These plants are mostly moderately sized, with the majority of the species only growing to about a foot tall and twice as wide, but there are other species that can reach over 6 feet tall!

Leaves

The overall leaf shape and color of a scaevola plant will vary slightly depending on the species, but many of them are brightly green colored with an oval or egg shape. Some have toothed edges as well.

The species that live closer to the coast will be more succulent in nature — meaning that they are thicker and fleshier than a regular leaf. This enables them to store water in drier areas.

Flowers

A scaevola flower is called a fan flower because the way it looks like it has been cut in half. Each flower is comprised of 5 petals arranged on one side. These are delicate and small flowers.

Scaevola flowers are arranged in clusters at the tops of flowering stems, creating explosions of color. Flower color will vary, but they usually linger around white, yellow, pink, purple, or blue.

Flowers will commonly bloom in the late spring and last all the way through the summer and into the fall. They have sweet smelling nectar that attracts all sorts of pollinators and beneficial insects to the area.

What are some Popular Scaevola Species?

Amazing half flowers in white of the scaevola plant

Fairy Fan Flower (Scaevola Aemula)

Also known as the common fan flower, the fairy fan flower is a species that is native to South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria. It is a very popular landscaping plant due to its easy care and attractive growth habit.

Scaevola aemula can be identified by its blue, purple, or white flowers that are fan shaped. S aemula grows from brown and hairy stems accompanied by ovular succulent leaves. It’s growth habit makes it the perfect hanging basket specimen.

Beach Naupaka (Scaevola Taccada)

Also known as beach cabbage, sea lettuce, or magoo, beach naupaka is a species that is native to many coastal regions along the Pacific coast. It is a very common beach shrub to be planted in tropical areas.

Scaevola taccada can be identified firstly by its tall height, as it can reach over 6 feet in height. It bears white flowers that remain in bloom all year long accompanied by yellow/green succulent foliage.

Since it grows to close to coast, beach naupaka produces small fruits that then gall into the water. This makes them a great pioneer plant that populates the surrounding sandbanks thanks to seed dispersal!

Pale Fan Flower (Scaevola Albida)

Also known as the small fruit fan flower, the pale fan flower is native to the coastal scrubland of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia. Thanks to their growth habit they make they perfect bedding plant.

Scaevola albida is a mat forming ground cover plant that spreads. It bears obovate, semi succulent leaves of bright green that are egg shaped. S albida blooms with light blue fan flower clusters that last for a long time in the spring and summer.

Where is Scaevola a Native Plant?

Succulent scaevola plant growing on the atlantic coast

The most important thing that you can learn as a gardener is finding out where a species is considered as being a native plant. This better enables you to mimic those conditions in other places in the world.

Members of the scaevola genus are native plants all throughout Australia and along the tropical coasts of both the Atlantic ocean and Indian ocean. They are also very commonly found growing wild in the Hawaiian islands.

Scaevola plants are grown as annuals in most of the regions in North America because of their intolerance to cold. They can be grown as tender perennials in zones 9 through 11, but are grown as annual plants outside of those growing zones.

What are the Ideal Growing Conditions for Scaevola Plants?

Now that we have all of the fundamental information down regarding scaevola plants, the natural next step is start learning about how to care for a specimen of your very own!

Gardeners love these plants because they require absolutely nothing from you once they are established. They are drought tolerant, heat tolerant, and salt tolerant as well. Here are some other things you should know:

Incredible bright pink scaevola flowers growing in clusters

Soil Type

One of the cool things about scaevola plants is that they can tolerate nearly any soil type. It can be derived of loam, clay, or rock, and the only feature that it needs to have is proper drainage. Sandy soil is the soil type they are most used to living in in the wild.

Scaevola plants really don’t like to exist in soggy soil, so make sure to amend the soil with some compost and organic matter at the beginning of the growing season. This will both increase the drainage and the nutrient level of the soil. It’s a win win!

Water Level

Another super low maintenance aspect of scaevola care is how often it needs to be watered. They only need water as they are first getting established. Afterwards, they are a completely drought tolerant plant.

A good rule of thumb is just to water your plant if the soil feels extremely dry. Otherwise, natural precipitation should be more than enough water to keep it happy. Just remember, too much watering can result in root rot, which causes great detriment to their health.

Sun Exposure

One thing to remember is the scaevolas are a sun loving species. This means that the prefer to exist in 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. They love heat and they love sun exposure.

If your scaevola plant is planted in an area with too much shade, it will tell you by way of becoming too leggy — this is because plants tend to grow in the direction of the sun. Partial shade is sometimes tolerated, but it can result in fewer flower blossoms.

Young scaevola shrub growing on a sandy beach with succulent leaves

Temperature

One thing that is important to note about scaevola plants is that they are not cold hardy plants. They are not tolerant to winter temperatures or to frost.

On the other side of that, they are very tolerant to both extreme heat and extreme humidity! They grow happily in USDA growing zones 9 through 11, but are treated as annuals outside of those zones.

Fertilizer

Scaevola plants respond very well to fertilizer, and will reward you with enthusiastic flower blossoms if you provide it with fertilizer throughout its growing season.

Use either a water soluble fertilizer or a slow release granular fertilizer at the beginning of their growing season and throughout, or amend the soil with some compost to achieve a similar result.

Pruning

Something great about scaevola plants is the fact that they are self cleaning, meaning that you don’t need to deadhead the spent flowers.

The only pruning that needs to be done is trimming away the leggy stems. This stimulates outward growth rather than upward growth, giving the plant a fuller shape.

How do you Propagate a Scaevola Plant?

Amazing purple scaevola container plant growing in the sun on a window pane

And now for the final step of your scaevola plant experience: learning how to propagate a specimen of your very own! These plants absolutely love to spread, and planting new specimens is super easily done through planting seeds. Here are some steps to get you going:

1. Wait until the early spring to plant, after the last threat of frost has passed. Pick a spot on your property that receives full sun exposure the entire day.

2. Amend heavier soils with compost. This will improve the drainage and increase the nutrient content of the soil, which will give the plants that added boost.

3. Poke your finger into the soil where you want to plant your seeds. Holes should be about 12-18 inches of space apart from each other to give the plants enough space to grow.

4. Maintain soil moisture as the plant is first getting established. After it has experienced its first blooming period, it is well established and you can basically cease all care!

Happy Planting!

Incredible ornamental scaevola flowers trailing down a window pane

FAQs

Are scaevola plants deer resistant?

Scaevola plants are moderately deer resistant, meaning that though they are not the first choice of snack for larger pests like deer, rabbits, and squirrels, but they are also not the last choice.

How are scaevola plants used?

Gardeners love scaevola plants for all types of reasons, but mainly because they are gorgeous, resilient, and can be planted in so many different garden settings.

They’re perfect for mixed containers and outdoor containers, it’s an amazing bedding plant or great for a hanging basket. Whether you’re using it as a container plant or in your garden beds, they will bring color and pollinators to your property.

What are the damaging agents to scaevola plants?

The greatest damage that you can bring to a scaevola plant is planting it in water logged soils. Soggy soil will result in root rot which the plant does not survive for very long.

Can a scaevola plant survive winter?

Scaevola is a tropical plant type, meaning that it will not survive extended cold temperatures or frost. They love summer heat and will do great in areas that don’t experience anything close to a cold winter.

Are scaevolas evergreen plants?

Scaevola plants bear evergreen foliage, meaning that their leaves will remain on the plant and remain green as long as the plant is alive and healthy.

Can scaevola plants be grown indoors in pots?

Smaller scaevola plant species can be grown in indoors in pots as long as those pots are paced in a south facing window and if they come with plenty of drainage holes.

Can a scaevola plant be grown in a container?

Small scaevola species can be kept as a container plant as long as it is placed in a very sun spot and they have enough room to spread. Growing scaevola in a container in a colder area is also a good idea, that way it can just be brought indoors for the colder months.

Is scaevola a perennial plant?

Scaevolas are considered as being tender perennials that will bloom for a few seasons each spring. They are not very long lived, but luckily are very easy to plant!

What USDA growing zone can scaevola plants grow in?

Members of the scaevola genus are native plants all throughout Australia and along the tropical coasts of both the Atlantic ocean and Indian ocean. They are also very commonly found growing wild in the Hawaiian islands.

Scaevola plants are grown as annuals in most of the regions in North America because of their intolerance to cold. They can be grown as tender perennials in zones 9 through 11, but are grown as annual plants outside of those growing zones.

How often should as scaevola plant be watered?

Another super low maintenance aspect of scaevola care is how often it needs to be watered. They only need water as they are first getting established. Afterwards, they are a completely drought tolerant plant.

A good rule of thumb is just to water your plant if the soil feels extremely dry. Otherwise, natural precipitation should be more than enough water to keep it happy. Just remember, too much watering can result in root rot, which causes great detriment to their health.

What are the other common names for scaevola plants?

Let me introduce you to the genus scaevola. Though they do prefer to live in the height, they can tolerate all sorts of hostile conditions like extreme drought, summer heat, and salty spray and salty air. These tough flowering plants should be number one on your list if you live in an area like that! They are amazing for garden beds, outdoor containers, and baskets.

Scaevola plants go by all sorts of nicknames, including fan flower plant, half flower plant, or naupaka — which is its Hawaiian name. It is called a fan flower because of a Hawaiian legend, which tells that a woman tore a flower in half after a quarrel with her lover. The angered gods turned all of these flowers into half flowers, leaving the woman’s lover in constant search of the other half of her torn flower.

Should a scaevola plant be pruned?

Something great about scaevola plants is the fact that they are self cleaning, meaning that you don’t need to deadhead the spent flowers.

The only pruning that needs to be done is trimming away the leggy stems. This stimulates outward growth rather than upward growth, giving the plant a fuller shape.

Is the scaevola plant named after Gaius Mucius Scaevola?

Though they share the same name, Gaius Mucius doesn’t seem to have any connection to this genus.

Does scaevola prefer full sun exposure?

One thing to remember is the scaevolas are a sun loving species. This means that the prefer to exist in 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. They love heat and they love sun exposure.

If your scaevola plant is planted in an area with too much shade, it will tell you by way of becoming too leggy — this is because plants tend to grow in the direction of the sun. Partial shade is sometimes tolerated, but it can result in fewer flower blossoms.

Where can I buy scaevola seeds?

If your local garden center doesn’t have scaevola seeds, there is also NETPS plant finder which is a great online resource for finding all sorts of different seed types along with the plant type and tips on how to care for it.

What is the ideal soil type for a scaevola plant?

One of the cool things about scaevola plants is that they can tolerate nearly any soil type. It can be derived of loam, clay, or rock, and the only feature that it needs to have is proper drainage. Sandy soil is the soil type they are most used to living in in the wild.

Scaevola plants really don’t like to exist in soggy soil, so make sure to amend the soil with some compost and organic matter at the beginning of the growing season. This will both increase the drainage and the nutrient level of the soil. It’s a win win!

What is the easiest way to propagate a scaevola plant?

Since scaevola plants are either grown as annual plants or as tender perennials, there isn’t much point to transplanting them. For this reason, the best way to propagate a new specimen is just by sowing seeds!

What time of year do scaevola flowers bloom?

Flowers will commonly bloom in the late spring and last all the way through the summer and into the fall. They have sweet smelling nectar that attracts all sorts of pollinators and beneficial insects to the area.