A prized tropical plant for hanging baskets, fuchsias (Fuchsia x hybrida) have exquisite, unforgettable blooms all summer.
They bloom well in shady spots underneath house eaves and in parts of the yard that don't get much sun. In fact, fuchsias don't tolerate direct afternoon sun, especially during intense summer heat. There are thousands of cultivars, many of which are bi-colored, in shades of pink, purple, white, and red. A few are nearly pure white or have shades of orange or salmon. Hummingbirds like these unique blooms as much as gardeners.
Common name: Ladies' eardrops
Botanical name: Fuchsia x hybrida
Plant type: Deciduous tree, shrub, or perennial, but mostly used as an annual
Height: Varies with cultivar
Zones: 9 and higher
Family: Onagraceae (Evening primrose)
• Sun: Morning sun and afternoon shade
• Soil: Well-drained, peat-based potting mix
• Moisture: Consistently moist soil; plants wilt quickly without enough moisture.
• Fertilizer: Apply complete fertilizer every two weeks once plants set buds.
• Pruning: Most fuchsias self-clean by dropping spent blooms. Avoid pruning back stalks-it takes several weeks for a pruned stalk to bloom again.
• Bridal Pink' (pictured) has soft pink flowers and grows 6 to 10 inches tall.
• ‘Jack Shahan' has large rose-pink and light pink flowers and grows 12 to 18 inches tall.
• ‘Red Spider' has dark red and rose-red flowers and grows 6 to 12 inches tall.
• Water hanging baskets when soil surface feels dry-daily in hot weather, and sometimes twice daily when weather is extremely hot and dry. Leaves wilt and drop when the plant is too dry.
• If the plant is too wet or in standing water, root rot and leaf drop may occur.
• Fuchsias dislike extreme heat. When temperatures rise above 80ºF, they produce fewer buds.
Pests and diseases
• Spider mites, scale, thrips, aphids, and whiteflies may attack the plant.
• Mold, root rot, and rust occur.
• Germinate seed at temperatures between 70ºF and 75ºF.
• Root softwood cuttings in spring.
All in the family
• Fuchsias are tropical plants, and many species are shrubs or small trees in their native areas of Central and South America.
• Fuchsia arborescens (Zones 9 to 11) grows 6 feet tall. Its flowers are magenta or purple-pink with pale purple corollas.
• F. boliviana (Zones 13 to 15) is a shrub or small tree with pink and red flowers. It grows 12 feet tall.
• F. fulgens (Zones 13 to 15) is a shrub with long tubular flowers in pink and red. It grows 5 feet tall, but it's one of the fuchsias used to create the hybrids for annual container plants.
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Proven Winners.