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Ground cover that's lush, tough, almost carefree.

An Australian native proving its worth in California gardens is Scaevola (skeevola) 'Mauve Clusters'. This lush but tough ground cover, recently introduced by the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, resists pests, tolerates moderate frost and drought, holds down weeds, requires little maintenance, and has an unusually long blooming period.

'Mauve Clusters' looks like a succulent dwarf coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis) with fan flowers--half-circles of bluish purple petals--sprinkled over its foliage. Like coyote brush, this compact shrub does well at choking out weeds and is almost maintenance-free.

Give it infrequent but consistent watering--3nce it is established, two soakings a month will do.

Though this scaevola doesn't require much fertilizer, iron sulfate enhances its flower color. Along the coast, it bears lavender blooms nearly all year. It can grow in any good garden soil and is hardy to 25[deg.] or less. In California, it has no known pests.

To use scaevola as a ground cover, set plants about 3 feet apart. Each will eventually spread 3 to 5 feet, forming a 4- to 6-inch-high mat.

Australians often plant it in hanging baskets, and California nurseries are beginning to do likewise. You can find 'Mauve Clusters' at nurseries from the Oregon border to San Diego County.
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Date:Nov 1, 1984
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