Fuchsia-flowerFuchsia (named after the 16th century German botanist Leonhart Fuchs) are a genus of sub shrubs native to Central and South America and New Zealand. Whilst there are only around 100 species (organised into 12 sections) there are over 8,000 hybrids in cultivation!

Leonhart Fuchs

Leonhart Fuchs

Most are tender and deciduous but some are evergreen, especially in warmer areas. They like any reasonably moist soil and flower from midsummer to autumn.

The flowers are unique in form and handsome. They form in clusters of pendent tubes or are bell-shaped  with widely spread sepals, with a surrounding ‘skirt’ of petals – some varieties with the same colour as the tube, others different. The number of petals varies between 4 (in the single flower varieties) and 8 (in double-flowered). The Fuchsia Tryphylla group have very long, single flower tubes.

Fcuhsia 'Thalia'

Fuchsia ‘Thalia’

Fuchsia 'Black Beauty'

Fuchsia ‘Black Beauty’

In colder areas fuchsia need to be in the warmest part of the garden and even then frost may kill off a lot of their top growth during winter.  Fuchsias do not grow well under trees.  A few are grown for their attractive foliage and all carry berries after flowering. Fuchsias are popular garden plants and can live for years with minimal care. The British Fuchsia Society maintains a list of “hardy” fuchsias that can survive through British winters. In the United States, the Northwest Fuchsia Society maintains an extensive list of fuchsias that have proven hardy in the Pacific Northwest over at least three winters.  Some more vigorous varieties can be trained as hedges (F magellanica, F. magellanica ‘Riccartonii’) and do particularly well in coastal areas. There are three main types :

  • Half-hardy fuchsia: These need to be overwintered in frost-free conditions. Trailing types are ideal for hanging baskets (they need daily watering). Upright Fuchsias are a good choice for containers. In both cases, plants benefit from a balanced, liquid fertiliser in late summer
  • Hardy fuchsia: Plant the base of the stem 5cm below the soil surface and protect the crown in autumn with a mulch of compost, bark or straw. Cuttings can be taken in early autumn as an insurance against frost damage. Apply a dressing of general fertiliser in spring and again in summer
  • Standard fuchsia: These tend to be of the faster growing varieties and should always be brought under cover for winter as the main stem is prone to frost damage even if the variety is considered hardy. A balanced, liquid fertiliser used in summer encourages better blooms over a long flowering period
Fuchsia Hanging Basket

Fuchsia Hanging Basket

Fuchsia magellanica hedge

Fuchsia magellanica hedge

Fuchsias from these ‘sections’ have been shown to be especially hardy in the UK, Ireland and many other countries, including New Zealand and the Pacific N.W. of the United States:

  • Quelusia (F. magellanica and its variants, F. regia, etc.)

  • Encliandra (some encliandra hybrids flower continuously)

  • Skinnera (F. excorticata, F. perscandens)

  • Procumbentes (F. procumbens is suitable as a groundcover)

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae

Fuchsia magellanica var. ‘Molinae’

Fuchsia procumbens

Fuchsia procumbens

Fuchsia michoacanensis

Fuchsia michoacanensis

Fuchsia 'Wendy's Beauty'

Fuchsia ‘Wendy’s Beauty’

A number of species survive outdoors in agreeable mild temperate areas, though some may not always flower in the average British summer. Due to the mild, temperate climate created by the North Atlantic Current, Fuchsias grow abundantly in the West Cork region of Ireland. They are associated with the area and a local branding initiative uses the fuchsia flower as its logo. For similar reasons fuchsias grow abundantly in the Isles of Scilly, where they have even colonised wild areas. While F. magellanica is not wide spread in Scotland it has been found growing wild in sheltered areas, and can been seen growing from self set seedlings along the banks of a stream that runs through Cambo gardens in Fife. Even in somewhat colder regions, a number of the hardier species will often survive as herbaceous perennials, dying back and re – shooting from below ground in the spring.

Fuchsias may suffer from infestations of aphids such as Whitefly. Fuchsia Gall Mite is a new pest threatening to cause more problems, and it can also be difficult to gain good control of Fuchsia Rust and Red Spider Mite once they get hold.

Sources and further information:

RHS- growing Fuchsias

Find that Fuchsia

The British Fuchsia Society

Wikipedia

Hmm... not sure about this Fuchsia.....

Hmm… not sure about this Fuchsia…..

Old School Gardener

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