How to Plant and Grow Scaevola

Use this annual as a colorful groundcover or a trailing plant in containers.

Scaevola, which is also commonly known as fan flower, bears abundant blue, pink, white, or purple blooms along fleshy, deep green stems. No matter what color you choose, the fans or petals sport a bright yellow-and-white center in asymmetrical blooms that attract pollinators and cover the plant throughout the growing season—which can last from early summer to first frost.

This Australian native is heat- and drought-tolerant so it's a good plant to endure the heat of the summer. The trailing and cascading habit also makes scaevola a natural choice for groundcover or mixed containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.

Scaevola Overview

Genus Name Scaevola aemula
Common Name Scaevola
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 6 to 18 inches
Width 12 to 24 inches
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Where to Plant Scaevola

Native to Australia, scaevola is sun-loving and should be planted in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. It can be treated like a fast-growing summer annual in many parts of the country but can also be grown as a perennial in warm climates (like hardiness zones 10-11).

Scaevola is drought-tolerant and makes an excellent addition as an annual shrub or groundcover for xeriscape and low-water gardens. It also fares well in sunny coastal climates and isn’t deterred by moist, salty air.

Scaevola can be planted directly in the ground, but due to its compact, tumbling growth habit, it is often grown in containers or flower beds where its pretty blooms can spill over the sides and call bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to the garden.

How and When to Plant Scaevola

You can plant nursery-grown Scaevola seedlings in the spring when the soil is warm and frost is unlikely. Before planting, amend the soil (preferably at least two weeks before planting) to ensure the soil is well-draining. When you are ready, dig a hole twice the size of the plant’s root ball and place the seedling in the hole so that it sits at the same level in the ground as it did in its container. Fill in the soil and tamp it down evenly. Water thoroughly and continue to water daily until the seedling is well-established (1 to 2 weeks).

If you are planting more than one scaevola plant, be sure to give each one about 12 to 18 inches of space to grow. If the plants are too close together, they may compete for light and nutrients and may not produce as many blooms.

When growing scaevola in containers, many of the same standards apply. Choose a container with excellent drainage and fill it with a medium-coarse potting mix. For hanging baskets or containers 10 inches or larger, you can use as many as 3 to 4 plants evenly spaced apart.

Scaevola Care Tips

Scaevola comes from the arid Australian outback environment, so they have little problem dealing with summer heat and drought. However, they will not tolerate wet soil. If you plan to plant them in a container or hanging basket, use a medium-course, general-purpose potting mix that will drain freely.


Whether you are planting it in the ground or in a container, scaevola prefers full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours each day). It can also tolerate small amounts of shade but may produce fewer blooms.

Soil and Water

Scaevola prefers medium-course, well-draining loamy soil (much like what is found in its native habitat). It is not particular about the soil pH but won’t tolerate soggy soil.  If you need to amend your soil, till in some organic matter (like compost or peat moss) to improve drainage.

Temperature and Humidity

Scaevola is a tough plant that thrives in the hot, dry weather of summer and will put on its best displays when temperatures are sustained between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not cold hardy, which is why it is considered an annual in most climates. Even in warmer climates, container-grown plants may need protection if night temperatures dip below 50 degrees.

The thick, fleshy foliage of scaevola has adapted to drought, retaining water through dry spells. That said, scaevola loves humidity and will fare beautifully in hot, moist climates (but not soggy soil).


Scaevola is a survivor and doesn’t need much fertilizer, but you can promote flowering with the light application of a balanced fertilizer (12-12-12) once a month during the growing season.


Scaevola plants are self-cleaning, which means you won’t need to deadhead spent blooms. If you like, you can pinch back the stems of your plant to prevent leggy growth (and create a bushier plant). You can also cut the plant back periodically to control its growth and encourage new shoots.

Potting and Repotting

Scaevola makes an excellent container garden plant—particularly for hanging baskets or window boxes where the blooms can drape over the edges. The guidelines for potting scaevola are very much the same as those required for planting in the ground (full-sun, well-draining moist soil) but you may want to fertilize a container-grown scaevola a little more frequently to keep it happy and healthy.

Since scaevola is grown as an annual in most climates, repotting is not likely to be necessary, but if you do decide to transfer your scaevola to a different pot, be sure to keep it well-watered (but not soggy) for at least 1 to 2 weeks after transplanting to help it reestablish itself.

In warm climates where scaevola can be grown as a perennial, you may still wish to protect it from chilly temperatures from time to time. This is best done by growing the plant in a container that can easily be moved to a sunny window when the plant needs extra protection. You can also overwinter ground-planted scaevola by cutting them back to two-thirds their size in the fall and then potting them up to bring them inside. Reduce watering and stop fertilizing during these overwintering periods to encourage winter dormancy.

Pests and Problems

Scaevola is tough and disease-resistant in warm, sunny climates with well-draining soil. It can, however, be susceptible to root rot if the soil is too wet or if the plant endures long periods of drought followed by excessive watering.

Few pests bother scaevola, but keep an eye out for aphids, thrips, or whiteflies that may occasionally appear.

How to Propagate Scaevola

If you can’t find nursery-grown scaevola plants, you can propagate your own from seed or cuttings. Growing a new plant from seed requires patience but is doable when a viable parent plant is not available for cuttings.

To grow scaevola from seed, start your seeds indoors about two months before the last frost date. Place the seeds in a tray of medium-coarse potting mix and lightly cover them (as they will need ample light to germinate). Mist them lightly and keep them in a warm location (preferably about 70 degrees Fahrenheit) with bright, indirect sunlight. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy while the seeds germinate, which will likely take about 1 to 2 months. Once the seeds begin to sprout, move them to a warm, sunny location to continue growing.

To propagate scaevola from cuttings, use sharp pruning shears to take 4- to 6-inch stem cuttings from a non-blooming section of the plant at the end of the summer. Leaving a couple of leaves near the top of the cutting, remove all other leaves and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone. Plant your cutting into a small pot filled with medium-coarse potting mix. Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot where temperatures remain approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy.

Seedlings (whether grown from seed or cuttings) can be transplanted outdoors once soil temperatures are reliably above 65 degrees. For a smoother transition, harden your seedlings off by placing them outside for a few hours a day (for 5 to 7 days) and increasing the outside exposure a little more each day.

Types of Scaevola

'Blue Wonder' Scaevola

Scaevola aemula
Cynthia Haynes

Scaevola aemula has sky blue, fan-shaped blooms that cover these trailing plants. Plant in Zones 10–11.

'White Carpet' Scaevola

Scaevola 'White Carpet'
Scaevola 'White Carpet'.

Claire Takacs/Getty Images 

The ‘white carpet’ variety of scaevola is a fast-growing ground cover that also works well along borders or in hanging baskets. It features small, fan-shaped flowers that cover the plant through spring, summer, and fall in warm climates.

Scaevola Companion Plants


salvia sage

Salvia, also known as sage, is a popular addition to almost any garden and is hardy in zones 4–10. Whether you have a sunny garden bed, a shady oasis, a dry garden, or lots of rainfall, chances are there's an annual or a perennial salvia that you'll find indispensable. The aromatic blooms (especially the red ones) attract hummingbirds and are great picks for adding seasonal color to otherwise hot, dry sites.

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera daisies
Marty Baldwin

Gerbera daisies bloom in nearly every color (except true blues and purples) and produce fantastically large flowers on long, thick, sturdy stems. They also last for a week or more in the vase, making them a favorite of flower arrangers. In the warmest parts of the country (namely zones 9–11), this tender perennial will last through the winter. In the rest of the country, it is grown as an annual. Like scaevola, gerbera daisies do well in a sunny location with average soil that is kept evenly moist, but not overly wet.


pink Geraniums
Andrew Drake

Geraniums (Pelargonium, not to be confused with perennial geraniums) have been a standard for beds, borders, and containers for centuries. These annual geraniums come in a variety of types including zonal, ivy, regal (or Martha Washington), and scented-leaf, among others. The majority of these sun-loving blooms love hot weather and hold up well to dry conditions, but ivy geraniums may prefer some shelter from the harsh afternoon sun.

Though most geraniums (Pelargonium) are grown as annuals, some (like scaevola) can be grown as perennials in zones 10–11. Bring them indoors to overwinter and then place them outdoors in spring when temperatures no longer dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Garden Plans for Scaevola

Raised Beds Garden Plan

Raised Beds Garden Plan
Illustration by Tom Rosborough

Meander down a wonderful walkway flanked by a raised bed overflowing with lush swaths of annual flowers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What time of year do scaevola plants bloom?

    Scaevola plants are prolific bloomers that will produce flowers from late spring until early fall.

  • Can scaevola blooms be used as cut flowers?

    Yes. Cut scaevola blooms will last about a week in a vase and provide a pretty filler among big blooms like gerbera daisies, sunflowers, dahlias, and chrysanthemums.

  • Is scaevola considered invasive?

    Scaevola aemula (fan flower) is not considered invasive—particularly since it is not at all tolerant of frost. However, another flowering plant (with a similar name) in the Goodeniaceae family, Scaevola taccada, is considered to have invasive tendencies in Florida, Hawaii, and some Caribbean islands. S. taccada, which is commonly called beach naupaka or beach cabbage, is often used to control coastal erosion, but since its branches root where they touch the ground, it can easily spread outside of intended plantings. Its seeds are also buoyant which means nearby water (and sea birds) can easily carry seeds to new locations.

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  1. Scaevola Taccada - plant finder. Missouri Botanical Garden.

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