Friday 18 October 2019

Fuchsia, a not so fragile beauty

By Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Give lawns a final edging

Geranium 'Rozanne' now in its fifth month of flowering

There are many types of Fuchsia available, many of which are not classified as hardy. We use these in our pots, troughs and baskets in summer bedding displays. Great plants as these are flowering from summer right through autumn often into early winter, when a decent frost comes they unfortunatley succumb and say goodbye. There are however many Fuchsias that are classified as hardy, certainly in Ireland and particularly in coastal areas where it is often a few degrees warmer than in land. On inspection, these plants in flower look like fragile beauties, but in reality they are quite tough and will generally see off most of what winter puts them through.

Hardy Fuchsias are extremely versatile and long flowering as they bloom on their new wood. This means if they are growing they are flowering. They grow in full shade or full sun without apparent preference. In shelter or exposure as long as the winds are not freezing. Soil types seem to matter little to them either as long as they are not waterlogged.

The West of Ireland is littered with huge hedgerows of naturalised Fuchsia that withstand whatever the mighty Atlantic can throw at it. This naturalised plant is Fuchsia magellanica 'Riccartonii' and originates from Chile and Argentina and is probably the hardiest of all the Fuchsia here. In full flower they are an enduring sight. Like many Fuchsias, Riccartonii has bi-coloured hanging flowers consisting of, sepals the parts curving back and upwards and petals hanging down. Scarlet sepals and violet petals in this case. The species magellanica has given us many hardy cultivars that make great garden plants. Fuchsia m. 'Alba' is a white with the faintest of pink tinge and is nearly as robust as the type. Fuchsia 'Hawkshead' is smaller at 1.2 metres and is pure white with a slight flush of green. Fuchsia m. 'Versicolor' is a lovely foliage plant with striking leaves of green, grey, rose and cream variegations and flowering scarlet and purple.

Of the many hardy hybrids on offer Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple' is probably the best known with its large flowers of scarlet and violet .Very easily grown and fits into a shrub, mixed or herbaceous border with consummate ease. Fuchsia 'Madame Cornelissen' is also large flowered but this time with red/ pink sepals and white petals. Both these plants will make 1.5 metres depending on pruning.

On the smaller size two other widely available, very successful and appropriately named hybrids are Fuchsia 'Tom Thumb' and Fuchsia 'Lady Thumb' . Both make only 30 to 40 cms in height but pack some punch with their flowering profusion. Suitable for low hedges, front of border planting and pots you can virtually hear them groan under the flowering weight. Tom Thumb is scarlet and violet and Lady Thumb red with semi double white petals.

When growing fuchsia you can either prune hard or as I tend to do grow them as a shrub, just tidying up but basically leaving them alone. This doesn't seem to effect the flowering power in any way. If you hard prune, this is to say cut bak to within a few inches of the ground, you are effectively creating a herbaceous plant which is also fine but expect a smaller plant ultimately but no less flower

While these Fuschias are considered hardy a very cold winters may cause some frost damage but is unlike to kill the plant completely. If you are hard pruning leave this until after the last frosts are likely as the old growth will provide some protection. If you do lose the top of the plant don't panic as Fuchsia will readily shoot from roots below ground. If you are in land and expect generally cold winters a 50mm mulch of compost around the base of your Fuchsias should save the day.

Task of the week:- Give lawns a final edging

Plant of the week:- Geranium 'Rozanne' now in its fifth month of flowering.

Wexford People

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