Renowned for their performance from early summer through fall, scaevolas are one of the few annuals that can look brilliant through these warm, sometimes hot months. Once in the garden, these easy-care plants native to the harsh Australian environment can show their excellent performance.
Unfortunately, scaevolas can often be found in retail outlets looking a bit overgrown and untidy, with a big hole in the center of a 6-inch or larger pot–sadly hiding their true potential. Maximizing the display at retail is critical to consumer purchase, and this is where Surdiva excels.
Genetically, the Surdiva series offers highly-branched, large-flowered scaevola. Growers don’t need to worry about poor branching with an open center, excessive stretching, the use of growth regulators or pinching to finish the product. Surdiva naturally covers all these bases, making a grower’s life that much easier. Surdiva plants form a mounded bushy habit with short internodes, leaving no “hole in the center.” Finishing a 4-inch pot is no problem for Surdivas. The series is flexible and can be grown to finish in larger pot sizes and containers, including mixed baskets. Once planted into a sunny garden position, watch it maintain a compact and tidy habit while flowering profusely.
The Surdiva developed from a rare wild form of the species growing on a rocky outcrop. This form endures the salt spray from the sea, harsh winds and erratic Australian coastal climate. After successive rounds of hybridization and selection, these desirable characteristics were incorporated into an attractive form suitable for garden and amenity use.
Within the range there are currently three colors: Blue, Sky Blue and White. All are well matched, with White having a more upright stature.
‘Surdiva White’ was named one of the outstanding new varieties in the 2008 University of Florida trial. It had outstanding performance from spring through summer. ‘Surdiva White’ also made the “very best plants from the Gardens at Athens” list from the University of Georgia’s 2008 trial.
If you can grow other scaevolas, Surdiva will be easy. Cuttings must be taken from non-flowering shoots with two to three mature leaves. Cuttings root under standard conditions within three weeks. Plant into a free draining mix with pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Acclimatize for a week or two and then move to high light intensity and long day length to maximize compactness and flowering. Give moderate fertilizer application after cuttings are established in the pot. A hard cutback is tolerated if watering is reduced to compensate for reduced foliage cover. Finishing time ranges from five to seven weeks from planting a rooted cutting in a 4-inch pot to eight weeks for a 6-inch pot.