Matt Reese, head gardener at Malverleys in Hampshire, chooses a few of his favourite species of fuchsia.
Fuchsias are one of the hardest working and most obliging groups of plants in the garden. There are few plants that flower from early June into November with little maintenance, and also continue to make fresh, spring-like foliage into autumn. With more than 100 species, fuchsia was named in honour of the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566). Fuchsia are mostly small shrubs and trees, but there are also prostrate, low-growing, and scrambling members. Most fuchsia species are native to Central and South America, but a few are native to an area from New Zealand to Tahiti.
Fuchsia season From late spring into late autumn, or even early winter. In mild climates or coastal and city climates, fuchsias will start flowering earlier, and it is not unusual to find fuchsias still in flower in December.
Conditions For the best performance for your fuchsia, grow in any good, moist but free-draining soil in full sun to partial shade.
Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.
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Fuchsia ‘Mrs Popple’
A fabulous shorter fuchsia cultivar that dates back to 1899 and is much-loved today. Large, rounded, fat buds pop to reveal, large plump flowers, with scarlet sepals and purple-cerise petals. 1m x 1m. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.
Fuchsia ‘Alice Hoffman’
Good for the front of a border or a pot, this compact fuchsia cultivar makes a small, rounded shrub with a faint bronze tint to the young leaves. Its splayed, quartered sepals have white, tube-like corollas. 50cm x 50cm. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.
Fuchsia ‘Madame Cornélissen’
This fuchsia produces strong, upright stems that hold masses of medium-sized, semi-double flowers. Blooms are produced all through the summer, but are more prolific in the autumn. 1m x 1m. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.
Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae
A pretty fuchsia with soft, blush-pink flowers and pale-green foliage. It can make a substantial shrub, with lovely flaky bark. Can sucker if the roots are disturbed, or left behind after removal. 2.5m x 2m. RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b
A white-flowered hybrid, of Fuchsia magellanica var molinae x Fuchsia ‘Venus’, with a greenish tint to the sepal tips. Possibly the best white-flowered hardy fuchsia, it looks fabulous in a shady corner. 1.8m x 1m. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.
More commonly known as Hatschbach’s fuchsia, this Brazilian species has particularly notable, willow-like foliage that is held on slender, arching stems. It makes an elegant shrub in the mixed border. The flowers are a slender version of the typical hybrid fuchsia flower. Used beautifully in the Exotic Garden at Great Dixter. 2m x 1.5m. AGM. RHS H2, USDA 10a-11b.
Where to buy
• Great Dixter Nurseries Great Dixter, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH. Tel 01797 254044, greatdixter.co.uk
• Lower Kenneggy Nurseries Rosudgeon, Penzance, Cornwall TR20 9AR. Tel 01736 762959, lowerkenneggynurseries.co.uk
• Potash Nursery Cow Green, Bacton, Stowmarket, Suffolk IP14 4HJ. Tel 01449 781671, potashnursery.co.uk
• Victoriana Nursery Gardens Buck Street, Challock, Ashford, Kent N25 4DG. Tel 01233 740529, victoriananursery.co.uk