On Gardening: Crush your color combinations with the award-winning Whirlwind Scaevola | Nation

If you have gone complacent or perhaps even boring when it comes to scaevola, The Garden Guy is here to tell you it is time to crush the color combos.

I realize there may be a generation or two that doesn’t even know the scaevola. This tough-as-nails summer-persevering flower from Australia hasn’t gotten a lot of press lately. The lack of press isn’t because it has lost its credibility on the garden stage, but perhaps because of the sheer number of new varieties since it made its debut.

Scaevola exploded on the scene in 1997, when university trials were really getting started. A plant from Proven Winners named New Wonder Scaevola was chosen as the Georgia Gold Medal, Mississippi Medallion and Louisiana Select award winners, speaking volumes about what had been an unknown plant.

Proven Winners has since gathered their award-winning scaevola under the names Whirlwind Blue, Whirlwind White, Whirlwind Pink and the newest, Whirlwind Starlight. In a quart-sized container, this little fan-shaped flower would never sell you on being the latest and greatest. See it in the hands of a color guru, however, and you will proceed to the garden center to buy all the colors (and probably most of the plants).

Today the color design guys are teaching us there is really no plant partnership that can’t be made. You want to combine with coleus? The answer is yes, and the same with calibrachoas, angelonias, pentas, lanthanum. It’s drop-dead gorgeous with portulaca, too. The key to your happiness from a design standpoint may very well depend on your use of color schemes.

Red, white and blue will be at your wish and command with Whirlwind White scaevola, Blue My Mind evolvulus and Superbells Table Top Red calibrachoa. (By the way, there is a new Blue My Mind XL this year.) With Whirlwind Blue and Whirlwind Starlight also a shade of blue, this opens the door to great combos with lime or chartreuse, and of course orange.

Scaevola and pollinators are normally not mentioned on the same page, or any close reference whatsoever. But once you start growing scaevola elevated in containers or baskets, you may very well see doors open up to these visitors versus the ground-hugging application. The Garden Guy has seen frequent stops by both swallowtails and hummingbirds, which has been a delightful surprise.

Culturally speaking, you can imagine a plant native to the sand dunes of coastal Australia would need explicit drainage. This is generally no problem in baskets and containers. Here you will garner the green thumb award with scaevola. This doesn’t mean it is impossible in garden soil. Once you perfect your drainage issue, if you have one, scaevola will become the front of the border plant of your dreams.

Scaevola will reach about 8 to 10 inches tall with a generous spread of 24 inches. Select a location with plenty of sun and plant at the same depth they are growing in the container, spacing 12 to 18 inches apart or by tag recommendation.

Spring is just around the corner, and if you want that treasured shade of blue, then plan on putting the scaevola in your container designs. You’ll find Whirlwind scaevola also comes in pink, white and the bicolored Starlight.

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(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

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