Bacopa is a very cute perennial plant that has the advantage of growing and blooming very well in the shade.
Basic Bacopa facts
Name – Sutera cordata
Previous names – Bacopa cordata,
Sutera diffusa, Chaenostoma cordata
Family – Scrophulariaceae
Type – perennial
Height – 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm)
Exposure – part sun and shade
Soil – ordinary
Flowering – May to October
Care – easy
Easy to care for, here are the tips for beautiful and long-lasting blooming.
It is recommended to plant your bacopa in spring in a blend of garden soil and flower plant soil mix.
- Favor part sun, but ensure that the sweltering noontime sunrays aren’t directed to the plant.
- For a hanging pot, select special hanging pot soil mix.
- Set each plant at least 12 inches (30 cm) apart to give the bacopa space to grow.
- Water regularly after planting and in case of prolonged dry spell (especially potted and hanging specimens).
Caring for bacopa
Bacopa requires practically no care at all and offers marvelous small flowers during the entire summer season.
Deadheading bacopa Sutera
To boost flower-bearing, if you wish, remove wilted flowers regularly.
If you don’t do it, however, it will still bloom profusely.
Deadheading is mostly for young plants that don’t yet bear so many blooms.
For bacopa grown in pots, containers or garden boxes, water regularly as soon as the soil has dried up.
Avoid having water stagnate in the saucer because roots detest excess moisture.
In summer, feel free to mulch the ground to keep the soil cool and save on water.
Preparing cuttings is the best and easiest way to propagate your bacopa, followed closely by sowing its seeds.
- You can try either water cuttings or start them directly in a pot with seedling soil mix.
- Cut stems that are about 5 inches long (10-15 cm). Ideally, stems that haven’t bloomed.
- Remove lower leaves.
- Either place your stems upright in a glass of water (rainwater is best but tap water is fine), or wedge them in a pencil-hole in the soil mix.
- Wait until roots develop, changing the water regularly for the glass or ensuring the soil mix stays moist.
- Plant to a pot when roots seem stronger, about an inch.
You can also start seeds by sowing in a tray.
Diseases that affect Bacopa Sutera
In some cases, powdery mildew will infest your bacopa flower.
Bacopa and powdery mildew
If small white spots appear on leaves of the plant, it’s probably powdery mildew. It looks like white dust or flour. Leaves are quickly covered and turn yellow and die. This goes especially fast for new bacopa plants sprouted from seed or cuttings.
- since it usually starts on bottom leaves, you can still collect tips and start healthy cuttings.
- young leaves and leaves near the ground are the first to be infected.
Here are more detailed steps on how to cure a plant from powdery mildew.
For bacopa, specifically, you can do the following on top of the treatment tips shared on that page:
- Remove infected leaves – pick each infected leaf, disinfecting your fingers with methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol after every leaf. Simply dip your fingers in the alcohol between picking leaves. Pull out severely infected stems or sprouts that are more than half covered. Burn leaves or discard them in the trash, not the compost.
- Reduce watering – during the infection, it’s better for the soil to be drier. Water less and less often. Water in the morning, not in the evening.
- Don’t wet the leaves – apart from treatments, don’t get the leaves wet. Stick a funnel in the soil to water but keep the soil surface dry. For hanging bacopa suspensions, use a long-spout watering can.
- Increase air circulation – set up a fan to gently ventilate sprouts and dry them up. Place your plants where there’s more wind or drafts, such as near an open window.
- Increase soil drainage – add sand to the planting mix, or more seedling potting soil. Try not to use clay or loam to start seedlings.
Other Bacopa diseases and pests
- Whitefly is occasionally encountered.
Different bacopa varieties
- Medicinal bacopa, Bacopa monnieri – this is the species used for its health benefits in traditional Ayurveda medicine (see Bacopa benefits for health).
For over twenty years, Sutera cordata varieties have been bred and sold by garden stores. Ever since the first cultivar was mistakenly called “bacopa”, all flowers of that family have been sold under the horticultural name “Bacopa”. There are now dozens of ornamental bacopa varieties
- Recent Bacopa varieties are more resistant to disease
Older Bacopa Sutera varieties, now patent-free (what is a plant patent?)
- ‘Blizzard’ – large white flowers
- ‘Inuit’ – lavender-white, trailing
- ‘Flic-Flac’ – pale violet flowers
Soon to be patent-free (end of 2019 or during 2020):
- ‘Lavender Storm’ – lavender-colored blooms
- ‘Candy Floss Blue’ (Yasflos) – bushy cascading, blue flowers
- ‘Olympic Gold’ – yellow and green variegated foliage, white flowers
Newer Sutera varieties, easily found in garden centers (protected by patents)
- ‘Everwhite’ – white flowers, continuous blooming
- ‘Novasnow’ – white flowers, among the largest in the species… at half an inch (1.5 cm)!
- ‘Bacoble’ – lavender flowers, generously mounding
- ‘Snowstorm Blue’ – blue flowers, early blooming
These include the Scopia and its Gulliver sub-series bred by Gabriel Danziger and his team:
- ‘Scopia Great Violet Magic’, ‘Scopia Great Blue’, ‘Scopia Great Deep Violet’, ‘Scopia Dark Pink’…
- ‘Gulliver Dynamic White’, ‘Gulliver Blue Sensation’, ‘Gulliver Lavender’…
Graham Brown also worked towards developing Australian bacopa Sutera varieties:
- Bacopa Showers series, among which the ‘Bacoble’ mentioned above.
Landscaping with Bacopa Sutera
Since it grows into mounds and easily develops long, trailing stems, Bacopa is perfect for hanging suspensions and wall-mounted planters.
Such a care-free plant also does great as ground cover.
It is very similar to the cute bellflower plant. Bellflower has similar, small blossoms, but doesn’t trail and hang as much. Along rock walls and edges, they can be used interchangeably.
Learn more about bacopa
It is often prepped up in hanging pots because its flowers and leaves tend to cascade downwards, which is absolutely striking.
Easy to care for, bacopa will appeal to you with the multitude of small flowers it bears during summer. Each tiny flower lasts up to a week!
This ornamental species is different from medicinal bacopa. Indeed, Bacopa monnieri enhances memory and reduces neurological disorders. It has properties that help focus concentration and boost intellectual capacity.
Smart tip about bacopa
Cuttings are simple to prepare in spring, and it is actually preferable to propagate your bacopa that way instead of sowing.
Indeed, cuttings preserve characteristics of the cultivar. Seeds tend to grow with random, unforeseeable properties due to cross-pollination.
Watering must be regular but amounts must stay moderate during the entire blooming season.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Bacopa Taifun, white flower by Serres Fortier under © CC BY 2.0
Bacopa Calypso flower, violet by Serres Fortier under © CC BY 2.0
Bacopa Gulliver Lilac flower by Ernest McGray, Jr. under © CC BY-SA 2.0