724 Scaevola aemulaCommon Names: scaevola, fairy fanflower Family: Goodeniacea (scaevola Family)
Fairy fanflower is an evergreen herbaceous perennial with thick, coarsely toothed, oblong, 2 in (5.1 cm) leaves on erect and sprawling stems. The plant forms a mound up to 20 in (50.8 cm) tall and spreading 3 ft (0.9 m) across. It produces masses of blue, lilac or white flowers with yellow throats on open spikes throughout the spring and summer. The flowers are about 1 in (2.5 cm) across and the five petals are in a half circle, all on one side, which makes them look like little hand fans.
'New Wonder' is probably the best known cultivar. It has a sprawling habit and gets less than 1 ft (0.3 m) tall but can cover an area 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter. It produces lots of small purple-blue flowers all summer long. 'White Wonder' has white flowers.
Fairy fanflower, Scaevola aemula, is native to sandy, coastal areas in eastern Australia. It often grows on coastal dunes.
CultureLight: Full sun or light shade. Moisture: Fairy fanflower is quite tolerant of drought and loose, sandy soils. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. Fairy fanflower can tolerate light frosts. It grows fast enough to be used as an annual in cooler zones. Propagation: Seeds are sown in spring after danger of frost. Softwood tip cuttings can be rooted in summer. (Of course, patented cultivars such as 'New Wonder' and 'White Wonder' cannot be propagated legally without permission.)
Fanflowers can be grown in containers or hanging pots outdoors in summer and brought indoors during the winter. In subtropical climates, they are grown in perennial beds and borders. They are tolerant of sandy soils and salt spray. The sprawling cultivars make excellent groundcovers in seaside gardens.
Fairy fanflower is a great choice for seaside gardens in tropical and subtropical climates. It covers the ground with a profusion of pretty blue flowers for months on end. Cascading over the sides of a hanging basket, fanflower is hard to beat as a summertime patio plant.
Beach naupaka (Scaevola sericea) is an evergreen, bushy shrub to 10 ft (25.4 m) tall that has been used as hedge in South Florida seaside gardens, but is now known to be extremely invasive and is no longer recommended.
Steve Christman 6/20/00; updated 2/12/04, 1/25/08