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How to Grow: Fan Flower
Fairy fan flower
full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Summer to fall in colors of blue, pink, white and purple
Mature Height x Spread
8 to 18 inches tall x 1 to 2 feet
The fan flower is a relative newcomer to New England. It hails from “down under” (Australia) so loves hot, humid conditions with lots of sun. It’s a tough plant that will grow well in part sun as well. The sprawling plant is perfect for containers, hanging baskets and rock wall edges since it can spread across the ground and not grow too tall. In sun, it will flower non-stop all summer until frost. The thick stems and dandelion-shaped leaves produce blue, white or pink colored flowers that look like five-fingered, palm-shaped fans. The flower consists of a semi-circle or colored petals with a yellow dot in the center.
Where, When and How to Plant
Plant fan flowers in full to part sun after all danger of frost has passed in your area. It’s easiest to purchase fan flower transplants from garden centers. However, to grow many flowers for a reduced cost consider starting them from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. Harden off transplants before planting in containers, window boxes, hanging baskets, or garden beds. Plant in well drained soil.
Although drought tolerant once established, keep transplants and seedling well watered for the first few weeks. Feed plants monthly with an organic plant food and more often if grown in a container or hanging basket. Fan flowers can rot if overwatered or allowed to sit in water logged soil. There’s no need to deadhead fan flowers. You can try to over winter fan flowers indoors either taking the whole container indoors and cutting it back, or taking a stem cutting in summer and rooting it. Keep the plant in a sunny south-facing window, cut back on watering and it should survive until spring.
Regional Advice and Care
This easy to grow annual flower requires little care. Pinch back fan flowers in mid summer if they get long and leggy to stimulate more growth and keep the plant tidy and a manageable size. After pinching back stems to just above a side branch, fertilize and water well.
Companion Planting and Design
Fan flowers look great planted alone in a garden or hanging container of all one color or mixed with other fan flower colors. Try pairing blue fan flowers with yellow-colored, taller flowers, such as marigolds, calendula, and African daisy. The complimentary colors play well off either other. Consider creating an all blue container with blue salvia, fan flowers and ageratums.
‘Blue Lagoon’ and ‘Blue Wonder’ feature long stems with dark blue flowers. ‘Pink Fanfare’ has vigorous growth and pink colored flowers. The ‘Whirlwind’ series has blue or white colored flowers.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.