SEATTLE — I love the living tweetle out of hardy Fuchsias, and can't plant enough of them in my garden. Who can resist such spectacular, yet easy-to-grow shrubs. They bloom non-stop from late-May until well after Thanksgiving with colorful flowers that drive hungry hummingbirds absolutely ga ga!
Planting hardy Fuchsias is a beautiful way to attract hummingbirds. Unlike the tender shade loving Fuchsias that come in hanging baskets, hardy Fuchsias survive our winters, and are great candidates for the mixed border. These tough shrubs feature a wide array of attractive flower sizes and colors, and bloom non-stop from late-May until well after Thanksgiving.
If hardy Fuchsias are already growing in your garden, cut them back to healthy strong growth near the base as soon as it appears in spring. They bloom on current season’s growth, and cutting them back in spring results in bushier growth and increased flowering. If you buy a new hardy fushsia, plant it in well-drained soil in partial sun. For extra cold tolerance, plant your hardy Fuchsia 4 inches deeper than it comes out of the pot. Avoid a baking hot spot, but they need sufficient sunshine to bloom well. All Fuchsias are big eaters. Work a cup of organic bloom fertilizer mixed with a cup of alfalfa meal around each plant every April, and follow up with a second feeding about 6 weeks later. That will stimulate strong growth and profuse blooming keeping both your Fuchsia and hummingbirds fat and happy.
The hardy Fuchsias with the small flowers are referred to as ladies eardrops because the narrow (1-½ inch long) bi-colored flowers resemble little jeweled ear rings. These hybrids of Fuchsia magellanica, and F. Ricccartonii, native to Chile and Argentina, are the hardiest ( to -10 below zero) and easiest to grow. They come in a wide variety of flower colors. The blossoms are small but they are so numerous, the overall display is dazzling. Although most varieties have red and purple flowers, 'Hawkshead' is covered in blossoms of pure white, while the blooms of 'Peppermint Stick' are streaked with red and purple.
There are varieties with colored foliage as well. ‘Aurea,’ has golden foliage and bright red flowers, while ‘Tricolor' sports, gray-green leaves edged in cream to pink with red and purple flowers. Smaller blooming Fuchsias are quite drought tolerant once established. Plant them in a sunny location away from hot reflected sunshine and feed them with organic flower food in early April to keep them blooming all summer long. The eardrop varieties will grow quite tall if they aren't pruned, but it's better to cut them back a couple of inches from the ground every spring; to prevent crowded twiggy growth. Plus, if you don’t prune, eventually the flowers appear only at the end of the taller branches.
The showiest hardy Fuchsias, however, are the ones with the bigger blossoms. One of the best is definitely 'Mrs. Popple.' Completely hardy in the Puget Sound region, this shrub that can reach over 4 feet tall and wide and is covered with inch wide flowers: Bright red sepals and violet-purple tubes. Just as gorgeous with equally large red and dark purple flowers is 'Lady Boothby.' It grows more like a vine and can reach 14 feet tall if the stems don't freeze back in winter. If you’re into red, 'Cardinal' produces masses of inch wide, fiery crimson blossoms that hummingbirds find irresistible. Finally perhaps the showiest hardy Fuchsia is DebRon 'Smoky Blues' The inch long flowers feature deeply flared scarlet sepals with dark purple corollas. This one is prefers bright shade, so protect from afternoon sun.
To keep your gorgeous flowering Fuchsias blooming well into November, fertilize with a mix of organic flower food and alfalfa meal every 6 weeks beginning in early April and make sure the soil stays moist at all times. Even if the tag instructs you to plant it in shade, your hardy Fuchsia will bloom better in sun but avoid extremely hot areas of the garden. Mulch, fertilize with organic flower food and water regularly; then sit back and watch the hummingbirds flitter about as they decide which Fuchsia to visit. These gorgeous shrubs bloom and look the best if you cut the stems down to new growth when it appears near the base in early spring.
Here are some of my favorites:
Aztec: Big plant to 4 feet tall, big red flowers.
DebRon's 'Smokey Blues': Inch long flowers feature deeply flared scarlet sepals with dark purple corollas.
Mrs. Popple: 4 feet tall and wide and is covered with inch wide flowers: Bright red sepals and violet-purple tubes.
Lady Boothby': Purple and red large flowers. Grows more like a vine and can reach 14 feet tall if the stems don't freeze back in winter.
Cardinal: Produces masses of inch wide, fiery crimson blossoms that hummingbirds find irresistible
Riccartonii: Very hardy, small red and purple flowers, 3 to 4 feet tall.
Fuchsia Aurea: Brilliant lime/gold leaves and curtains of simple elongated red and purple flowers.
Royal Castile,Corolla purple flushed rose. Stunningly beautiful!