Fuchsias are a terrific group of plants for providing colour in the late summer /autumn period, especially in gardens that are a bit on the shady side. In this garden they have the further great merit of not being touched by slugs. Just need to sort out the capsids. We have a good number, both planted in the ground and grown in pots, on the basis that the hardy varieties are left permanently in the ground while the non-hardies can be moved under protection in winter.
If ever there was a dodgy concept in gardening then it is hardiness. This winter was almost frost free until the beast from the east struck in February. We had a couple of nights below -5°C, with daytime temperatures around 0. The cold spell lasted a few weeks.
We have mostly had very mild winters in the last few years, with little frost. The number of Fuchsias not regarded as hardy that we have planted out has grown. Perhaps something gets planted for the summer and we don’t get around to lifting it, or we have an old plant and we’ve propagated a new younger one, so the old one goes out to sink or swim. In some cases there is little information available and the only way to find out if it is hardy is to leave it out.
Of the supposedly tender varieties in the garden I don’t think we lost a single one last winter. We usually plant them fairly deep, a couple of inches below soil level, and we leave the top growth on until late winter for the protection it affords. F.perscandens and F. x colensoi came through with no top growth die back at all. F. boliviana and F. splendens, which have been in the ground for many years, were as usual killed to the ground but came back up in spring, albeit a little later than usual. If they have not grown as well as hoped it is because of the recent hot dry weather. Among cultivars that by rights shouldn’t have survived are ‘Quasar’, ‘Marlies de Keijzer’, ‘Remember Eric’, ‘Waldis Simon’, ‘Maxima’, ‘Jadi Messingtetra’ and ‘Delta’s Parade’. Usually amongst our hardiest are F. microphylla and ‘F. ‘Rading’s Karin’, both tiny flowered encliandra types. They have come through some recent winters without stopping flowering or dropping a leaf. Not so this year; killed to ground level and very slow to stage a comeback, with flowering still not even starting.
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Aurea’, a good bright yellow, fully hardy and very reliable.
It seems with hardiness that new information or experience merely adds to my ignorance. It would be possible to hypothesize any number of explanations for what we see, but which, if any, is the correct one, and ultimately, how much does it matter. If there is a risk of losing something over winter, we take cuttings and overwinter small plants under cover. If something dies, it is all too quickly forgotten and the space filled with something else.
The range of Fuchsias available in garden centres is very small, with the same varieties offered everywhere. I know a lot of people aren’t keen on them and I know that some of those people would look again if offered some of the species, or species crosses. You’re not likely to see them offered outside of specialist nurseries however and the number of them left is shrinking. There are three National Collections, holding a total of just 284 varieties between them, which considering that the website FuchsiaFinder lists over 17,000, doesn’t seem many. We have 100 ourselves. Here are some that were flowering today.
Fuchsia ‘Adalbert Bogner’. Large, very double flowers.
Fuchsia magellanica gracilis ‘Variegata’. Pretty, graceful variegated form that is hardy but less easy to propagate than most.
Fuchsia ‘Coralle’. One of the triphylla group.
Fuchsia ‘Dying Embers’. Dark maroon-red flowers, dark stems and neat glossy leaves. Hardy.
Fuchsia ‘Dying Embers’
Fuchsia magellanica form. There are several forms, rather similar, amongst the hardiest of the genus.
Fuchsia ‘Lechlade Magician’. Hybrid between F. magellanica and the New Zealand species F. excorticate, from which it gets its blue pollen. In mild areas should make a small tree with lovely peeling bark.
Fuchsia ‘Lady in Black’. Like the popular F. ‘Lady Boothby’ this has long stems that with support will “climb” to a fair height.
Fuchsia boliviana. Usually grown inside, this has been in our garden for years. It is killed to the ground by the first frost but comes back in spring to about a metre in height, flowering very late in autumn.
Fuchsia ‘Charming’. Hardy variety which looks very like a lot of others.
Fuchsia ‘Remember Eric’. Has survived three winters in the ground.
Fuchsia ‘Falmouth’. Large showy flowers and seems hardy.
Fuchsia ‘Hawkshead. A magellanica type with green tipped white flowers. Fully hardy.
Fuchsia ‘Jadi Messingtetra’. Lovely pale lilac flared flowers; this survived last winter in the ground, to our surprise.
Fuchsia ‘Red Sunlight’. Somewhat lacking vigour, this is a non-hardy basket variety.
Fuchsia ‘Maxima’, not known as a hardy but has come through 3 outdoor winters with us.
Fuchsia ‘Cornish Pixie’. A supposedly dwarf form of F. microphylla that is usually evergreen and flowers all year round.
Fuchsia ‘Roesse Belinda’. We oh so nearly lost this and have coaxed it back from the brink. Not hardy.
Fuchsia ‘Olga Storey’. Hardy variety with showy flowers set against red veined bright yellow leaves.
Fuchsia ‘Delta’s Sarah’. Hardy variety that can get very tall if not cut down by cold winters. A neighbour has one 10 feet tall over her front door.
Fuchsia ‘Shuna Lindsay’. Very like the species F. denticulata but smaller.
Fuchsia procumbens. Fairly hardy New Zealand species that creeps and forms mats.
Fuchsia ‘Delta’s Parade’. Large magenta toned flowers and shouldn’t be hardy, but seemingly is.
Fuchsia ‘Catharina’. Very handsome foliage but a somewhat reluctant flowerer, very late if at all most years.