Tiny, Star Like Blossoms
Tiny, lush, and star-like, this ornamental Bacopa is Sutera cordata, (SOO-ter-uh kor-DAY-tuh) is a warm-weather perennial in zone 9-11. Elsewhere, consider it a charming and useful little plant to trail from your containers. It looks tiny in the garden center but it will trail several feet.
How We Can Use It
This is very attractive in any container. Window boxes, hanging baskets, all sorts of containers. It is available to us in white and near white, blues, pinks and lavenders. The flower is small but relatively large in relation to the tiny heart-shaped leaves. The flower’s importance is enhanced by the fact that it is raised above the leaves on an upright peduncle. (That is the stalk that bears the flower.)
I have added it to an area of white plantings in the swimming pool area. We like the white because it is lovely to sit out on our warm evenings and enjoy the “Moonlight Garden” effect. This post is a visit to Mina Edison’s historic moonlight garden at the Edison-Ford Estate in Fort Myers Florida. If you visit the area it is a great day out along the wide Caloosahatchee River.
How It Got To Us
The earliest mention of this plant, I see, is by the early plant hunter Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828) An interesting and dedicated character he was a physician and student of Linnaeus.
He spent 3 years in South Africa, seeking plants for the Botanical Garden in Leyden. Later he spent time in Japan. The Japanese tried hard to be unaffected by the western traders. Finding himself isolated and unable to get to interesting botanic material, he traded medical knowledge to get access to plants. Providing information to the Japanese translators apparently worked for him. “Where there is a will, there is a way”?
He called Barcopa by a slightly different name. It was later changed to Sutera cordata.
Some Cultivars of Ornamental Bacopa
Here are cultivars to consider when you are shopping:
- Abunda Series
- Bluetopia-lavender/blue flower, mounding form, trailing, long bloom period
- Snowtopia-forms dense mat, 6″ h . Morning sun
- Snowstorm-sun to shade, needs more water in sun, trails to 1′
When a plant is popular there are always new cultivars in testing. You will see new options over time.
How To Grow It
Use Bacopa in sun to part sun avoiding places of high wind. When the plant becomes completely dry it stops blooming and it can take 2 or more weeks to rebloom.
Plant in containers in good quality potting mix. Here are notes on selecting potting mix.
Bacopa is rated for sun to part sun in the garden. In the more southern zones morning sun is best. Plants in the sun, particularly in warm weather will require more water.
Feed Bacopa with a balanced 10-10-10 feed. Recommendations range from feeding at 7-10 day intervals to 4-6 week intervals. In our garden, we favor the 7-10 day schedule using a liquid feed mixed on the garden hose. It is convenient and works for us. We garden in zone 10b. It is a warm climate and we water more often than gardeners in colder climates. The heavier watering does remove fertilizer a little faster than may happen in a more temperate climate.
You can propagate cuttings either in water or seed starting soil. A pencil is a good way to make the soil holes.
Pests And Diseases
Like Louie in “Casablanca”, we can “round up the usual suspects“. These would be Aphids, Thrips, and Whiteflies, If you see the little bodies start with the simplest cures. Remove affected leaves and destroy them. Use water pressure from the garden and if they persist use insecticidal soap.
- Botrytis-is a fungus which attacks a variety of plants. To avoid the disease, control the environment. Remove dead plant
material and debris, Improve air circulation, and avoid overhead watering if you can.
- Pythium-is a fungus-like organism. The plant will appear stunted, turns yellow and dies. It tends to be caused by dirty tools. pots or flats. To avoid the problem use heat pasteurized potting soil and cleaning tools and equipment. Potting soil can be reused if amended with new material but never reuse soil from a plant that died of a disease.
- Rhizoctonia-is a soilborn fungus which causes root rot. Good drainage and fungicide use are ways to handle the problem.
Our mothers and grandmothers loved their bright annuals. They used the ancestors of the Impatiens we use today. The Bacopa they never saw. It is a plant with lots of uses in our gardens.
This little trailing plant can be used on its own to create lovely mounding containers. Combine them with other plants for your own look. Try Calibrachoa, lobelia and sweet potato vine, all trailers.
In the pool area, we have used Bacopa to replace white Petunia, which by April were giving up the ghost. They are potted with Angelonia for height and euphorbia for an airy fullness and they all surround a little Kumquat tree, now in bloom. This container is in full sun in a warm climate. It is in a screened swimming pool cage which reduced the rays by 30%.
Sun Companions-zonal Geraniums, Wave Petunia, Licorice Vine and the Sweet Potato Vine “Blackie.
Part Sun Companions-Impatiens, Coleus, Caladium.
The Bacopa should be fun and useful in the garden. Here is some more information from North Carolina State University.