I visited Hidden Lake Gardens last week and even though I have been there many times, I was immediately in awe of the variety of fuchsias that filled the conservatory. I’m sure you, like me, have only ever seen the few cultivars that are offered at the garden centers in the spring. These varieties are some I’ve never seen and would really like to have.
The fuchsia was discovered by Father Charles Plumier (1646-1704) on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola around 1696-1697. He named it in honor of Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566), a 16th century doctor. A side note here: whereas here in America we say “fyoo-shuh”, as the plant was named after a man named Fuchs, the correct pronunciation is “fook-sya”. Since that is not a well known fact, we will just keep calling it “fyoo-shuh”. Just wanted you to know. If I had a plant named for me, I would want it pronounced correctly- just sayin’.
Okay, enough of that. Fuchsias in their native habitats receive 200-300″ of rain a year. And you wonder why your fuchsia always needs to be watered on a hot summer day. I have mine hanging on the East side of the house so it receives only morning sun. They can take quite a bit of sun, but the more sun, the more water it will need. Fuchsias are heavy feeders, so make sure you have a consistent fertilizer schedule. Use a balanced fertilizer such as Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 full strength every 4th watering or use 1/4 strength every time you water. As the flowers fall, remove the seed pods to prevent seed production and to promote consistent flowering. Though, I did read that the fruits can be made into jam. Interesting, but I probably won’t be trying that.
Fuchsias are prone to a few problems, the worst being whiteflies. On the left is the actual whiteflies on the new growth. The picture on the right is a yellow sticky trap. Not only is the trap an indicator of what is bothering your plant, it does kill them as they stick to the card.
In the 1820’s -30’s, fuchsias began to be hybridized for bigger flowers and different color combinations. Victorians loved fuchsias. In the 1890’s the popularity of them began to wane and at the time of the first WW they had almost disappeared. Many greenhouses were turned into food producing facilities during that time. After the war, their popularity had a resurgence and in 1929 the American Fuchsia Society was formed; the Britian Fuchsia Society in 1938.
If you bring one of these beautiful plants home, make sure you give it dappled shade or morning sun and plenty of water and fertilizer. An added bonus: they attract hummingbirds. In their natural habitat, hummingbirds are their pollinators. These are gorgeous plants and every shade garden should have one hanging on the porch or in a shady pot combination as the spiller.