Blue Cools in the Summertime

Horticulturists remember this sort of thing: It was a spring weekday. I stopped in to see my friends at Crumps Garden Center north of McKinney, and Joe Crump was excited by a new hanging basket plant that they’d grown. “Neil, it’s from Australia, it’s called ‘Blue Wonder,’ and it’s going to be really special.”

New Blue Wonder fanflower cools its surroundings in summer.

Nobody grew baskets better than the Crumps, and I bought a couple of the fanflowers totally on Joe’s recommendation. I put them into big patio pots so they could spill out and show off, and that’s just what they did.

I love this plant. Let me count the ways:
It thrives in the heat.
I’ve never seen pests on the ones that I’ve grown.
Blue is such a rare color anyway, especially in summer.
It sprawls and covers a bed nicely, yet it stays low and compact.
Newer forms like ‘Improved New Blue Wonder’ and others have even more and better flowers.

It’s a patriotic blend of colors with white and blue fanflowers along with red waxleafed begonias. Note how much more heavily the blue-flowering fanflower is blooming.

I’ve found fanflower (Scaevola, if you care to use its unglamorous genus name) to do best in rich, highly organic soil. I give mine morning sun and shade from noon on. It just seems like the merciful thing to do for a plant that’s going to have to grow down along the ground where temperatures can be 20 degrees warmer than up where thermometers are hung.

Dahlberg daisies and contrast provide a cheerful contrast in colors, textures. Both deserve more common use.

Fanflowers grow best if they’re kept well fed and consistently moist. Use a high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer similar to what you’d use on your lawn and shrub beds. That is, after all, what Texas A&M soil tests show that Texas soils need the most often.

Of you can do as I’ve done so many times over the years: grow fanflowers in decorative pots as your “spiller” flowers, or go back to the way that Joe Crump was growing them – in big, beautiful hanging baskets.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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