Scaevola Outback Fan Flower

July 3, 2003 - 07:54

This series is bringing new potential to a standard crop.

Scaevola is a well-known Australian native that thrives in
gardens throughout North America from spring to fall, even during the worst
heat of summer. The Fan Series (Scaevola aemula) consists of four cultivars in
four different colors: Purple Fan, Fan Dancer, Sparkling Fan and White Fan. Fan
Dancer tends to be a little more compact and upright in growth habit as
compared to Purple Fan, which is more trailing. A new pure white, large
flowered scaevola, White Fan, received much attention and was one of the most
talked-about new cultivars at the 2003 California Pack Trials. It has the
largest flowers in the series and a strong growth habit that is more similar to
Purple Fan.

Propagation

Rooting time is 4-5 weeks. Scaevola require rooting hormone
for best rooting; choose one with up to 2,500 ppm IBA or up to 500 ppm of NAA
to achieve uniform rooting. Best results can be achieved using vegetative
cuttings free of flowers.

Misting requirements for this crop are lower than most
vegetative crops, with cuttings that prefer to be kept a little on the dry
side. The crop should be monitored for overwatering during the propagation
cycle, as excess moisture will slow rooting and can increase the chance of root
rot and fungus gnat infestation. Soil temperatures of 70-75° F are ideal during
propagation. Although not required, scaevola benefit from bottom heat during
propagation by decreasing rooting time. Pinching cuttings once the roots have
started to grow will enhance overall plant habit and performance after
transplant.

Growing On

Scaevola prefer a well-drained soil with little to no
phosphate added. Like most Australian natives, scaevola is sensitive to
phosphorous, which can cause discoloration and foliage desiccation when present
at levels higher than required. Use a complete, balanced fertilizer, low in
phosphorus, at 200-250 ppm nitrogen continuous liquid feed. Maintain a soil pH
between 5.5-6.0 and an EC below 2.0 saturated media extract (SME). If yellow
leaves appear, apply iron either through an iron chelate foliar spray or drench
or an iron sulfate drench. Be careful not to apply iron sulfate to the foliage.

Scaevola does well with light levels of 4,000-6,000
foot-candles and day temperatures of 70-85° F. Night temperatures should be
between 68-70° F. Scaevola can be grown with cool crops, but flowering time
will be delayed at average temperatures below 60° F. Scaevola rarely needs
any growth regulator. Growing with average temperatures of 65° F will help
keep plants compact.

One pinch 2-4 weeks after transplant greatly improves flower
count and plant shape. Generally, a mature plant will flower within 5-6 weeks
after pinching. Crop time after transplant is 6-8 weeks for a 4-inch pot, 10-12 weeks for a 61/2-inch
pot and 12-14 weeks for a 10-inch pot or basket. Using two cuttings in pot
sizes larger than 4 inches, and up to four cuttings in 10-inch baskets, will
make a fuller product with high consumer appeal.

Pests and Diseases

Scaevola does not have any significant insect problems,
though aphids, scales, thrips and caterpillars have all been found on plants
when conditions favor these pests. Fungus gnat larvae can be an issue in
propagation and early development, especially with over-misting and irrigating.

Botrytis can affect the flowers and foliage. Maintaining
good watering practices, air circulation and relative humidity go a long way to
prevent problems. A preventative spray can be applied, especially after
pinching, to avoid problems with this disease.

Scaevola can also suffer from root and stem rot. This can be
managed by allowing media to dry between watering and applying preventive soil
drenches shortly after transplanting. As a mature plant, scaevola can tolerate
light wilting and recover quickly as long as roots are healthy.

About The Author

Frauntene McLarney is product development trials manager at Ecke Ranch. She can be reached by E-mail at fmclarney@eckeranch.com.

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