Fuchsia

Leonhard Fuchs was a German physician born in 1501. Besides studying medicine, he was also deeply interested in plants. His book, Historia Stirpium, was published in 1542, and was about plants and their medicinal properties. Unlike other books of the time, it included descriptions of  plants in alphabetical order, accurate drawings, and even a glossary. Today, Fuchs is considered one of the “Fathers” of Botany, the scientific study of plants.

Almost 140 years later, a French botanist named Charles Plumier discovered a genus of flowering plants native to  South America and named it Fuchsia, in honor of Leonhard Fuchs.

The genus Fuchsia includes about 100 species. They fall into three categories. Hardy Fuchsias are shrubs, and can survive temperatures above 39°, such as in the Pacific Northwest. They need a little protection from frost, but otherwise can live for many years. Tender Fuchsias include both upright and pendulous varieties, and will not survive temperatures below 50°. Ideally, these should be planted in a container so they can be moved indoors for the winter.  Trailing Fuchsias are much more fragile and have weaker stems. These are perennials grown as annuals in most areas.

Most Fuchsias range from 6 inches to 3 feet tall. Flowers appear in a wide range of pinks, reds, purples and white and are frequently bi-colored. One of the only colors that is not found, as of yet,  is yellow. The flowers can be single, semi-double, double and clustered. Some call them Ladies’ Eardrops and others compare their flowers to dancing ballerinas. Hummingbirds are attracted to Fuchsias, though they have no scent.

Fuchsias are rather picky about their growing conditions. They prefer partial or light shade, and summer heat is very hard on them. If they are in direct sunlight at all, it should only be first thing in the morning, or late in the day. The soil should be always moist, but well drained, otherwise the plants will rot. Fuchsias need a lot of water and should be watered every day, at around the same time. The more roots, the more water.

Propagation is by cuttings, taken from new growth, in early spring. Growing a Fuchsia from seed is not recommended. The resulting plants are not true to the parent plant, and many seeds fail to germinate.

If you are successful at keeping your Fuchsia happy, it will bloom all summer and into the fall. Once the flowers fade, they should be deadheaded, along with the seed pod behind the flower. If the seed pods are allowed to grow, the plant expends too much energy to support them.

Though many sources say that Fuchsia is a hard plant to grow, I have been fairly successful with the trailing variety. I have a hard time resisting when I see them at the nursery, so I end up with at least one, most years. Placed in a hanging basket on the west side of my house, they bloom all summer, and add a bright spot of color to an otherwise dull area.

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3 Responses to “Fuchsia”

  1. Kem Says:

    I put them in hanging baskets on our front porch–it gets very little sun. I put them in wire baskets lined with shredded coconut husk. Humming birds like them too.

  2. Aunt Mary Says:

    I have such a hard time with them and stopped buying them. I have bought them many, many times and put them in different places but always lose them. I want to try again.

  3. Janee Zona Libre Says:

    I just needed to say that I found your site via Goolge and I am glad I did. Keep up the good work and I will make sure to bookmark you for when I have more free time away from the books. Thanks again!

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