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Fuchsia x hybrida
Fuchsia x hybrida

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Zones 15-17, 22-24, H1
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Fuchsia hybrid

Evergreen, Shrubs


The fuchsia comes from wet, mountainous areas, mainly in tropical America. Most fuchsias bloom from late spring to first frost (and some bloom even longer), bearing unscented ­flowers frequented by hummingbirds. Pop­ular showy-blossomed fuchsias are forms of F. x hybrida and are discussed under that heading.

Some species fuchsias have blooms that are smaller overall than those of hybrids; others bear large, tubular flowers in unusual colors. Fuchsias grow best in cool-summer areas with much moisture in atmosphere and soil. Plant in-ground fuchsias in full sun in the Northwest; give potted ones there and all fuchsias farther south either morning sun or all-day dappled shade. If you live where fog rolls in on summer afternoons, any place in your garden will supply ideal conditions. Where summers are warm, windy, or dry, seek or create favorable exposure protected from wind and hot afternoon sun.

A heavy mulch (1 1/2­ - 3 in. thick) helps keep soil moist in hot climates. Frequent overhead sprinkling is beneficial in several ways: it keeps leaves clean, discourages some pests, and counteracts low humidity. Blooms appear on new wood, so do any pruning before spring growth begins. In addition to removing broken or crossing branches, you can prune as little or as much as desired to maintain size or to shape the plant.

Fuchsia hybrid

The vast majority of fuchsias with showy flowers fall into this hybrid group. Many hundreds of selections are sold in the West, offering a wide variety of combinations of all colors in the range. Sepals (the top parts that flare back) are always white, red, or pink. Corolla (inside part of flower) may be almost any color in range of white, blue violet, purple, pink, red, and shades approaching orange. Flowers range from shelled-peanut size to giants as big as a child’s fist. Some flowers are ’single, with just one layer of closely set petals in corolla; some are very double, with many sets of ruffled petals in corolla. Small-flowered types often have small leaves, while big-flowered sorts have large leaves.

Plant form varies widely; choices range from erect-growing shrubs 3’6 ft. high and wide to trailing types grown in hanging baskets. You can also train (or buy) fuchsias as espaliers and standards (miniature tree forms).

Gardeners in California should note that, due to susceptible parentage, many if not most hybrids are susceptible to mite damage. Mite-resistant selections include ’Carnival’, ’Mrs. Victor Reiter’, and ’Trumpeter’.

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