(Species: Fuchsia - Family: Onagraceae)
Fuchsia and its origins
Fuchsias are a large family of mostly deciduous shrubs and perennials grown for their distinctive hanging flowers over a long period, from early summer to early autumn.
In mild areas, Fuchsias will grow happily outside but in colder climates, they are best used as bedding plants or grown in a greenhouse. They are native to New Zealand, Central and South America, and Tahiti.
Fuchsia triphylla was discovered on Hispaniola - an island now encompassing Haiti and the Dominican Republic - in 1703 by the French botanist Charles Plumier, who named the genus in honour of the German physician and botany founder Leonhart Fuchs, and bought Fuchsias to England.
Seasonality Fuchsia in flower
The basic flower pattern of a Fuchsia is of four swept-back sepals with pendulous petals and stamens. Within that pattern, however, there are huge variations, from slim, graceful flowers in pale ice pink, like tiny temple bells, to fat, flamboyant flowers in shades of scarlet and purple, with skirts as full as a ballet tutu.
They can be borders or bedders, i.e. they can be woody-stemmed shrubs grown as specimens or even as hedging, such as F magellanica, 1.2m tall or they can be used solely for summer display, in container, such as white and lilac Bon Accorde, beds or - in the case of weak-stemmed trailing varieties - in hanging baskets, such as red-and-white Swingtime.
Fuchsias also make highly decorative standard - lollipop - plants in pots.
How to plant Fuchsia
All Fuchsias are happiest in fertile, moist soil, in a partly shaded, sheltered position. They benefit from watering through dry periods and occasional feeding with high-potash fertiliser. Keep hardy plants bushy and free-flowering by cutting back the stems to just above ground level in early spring.
Bedding Fuchsias can be kept over winter by storing pots in a greenhouse or cool room with good lighting, and watering sparingly until spring.
Fuchsias grown from cuttings should have their tips pinched out to prevent the plant growing straggly.
Propagation of Fuchsia
Take softwood cuttings in summer, using tips of non-flowering shoots. Keep a watch for whitefly, which can be troublesome.
For shrub Fuchsia magellanica, either take softwood cuttings in spring or semi-ripe cuttings in late summer and place them in a propagator.
Did you know?
The Fuchsia is also known descriptively as lady's eardrops.The magenta colour Fuchsia is named after the plant's vibrant pink-red colour.