We’ve just added a selection of lovely garden Fuchsias to our website, available to buy now. Geoff Stonebanks describes some of his favourite fuchsias, and how to grow them in your garden.
Back in 2004, when my Aunt, Margaret Grindrod, died, one of the plants I inherited from her beautiful garden was a small standard Fuchsia Genii in a green ceramic pot. Fast forward to 2007 when my father also died, Mum gave me 2 large pots of garden fuchsias from their garden. They were ones Dad had bought her for a recent wedding anniversary. Garden visitors have since told me it is “Empress of Prussia”. So, by 2009, when I first started to open my garden and take a real interest in it, I was starting to develop quite an interest in these lovely shrubs. I’ve probably got over 20 different varieties throughout the garden now, some hardy and in the ground and others not so, in containers, which are kept in my heated greenhouse.
Garden Fuchsias are really easy plants to grow, though can be slightly fussy about moisture and temperature. They work very well in containers, perfect for my garden and most will thrive in part shade to full shade, which is a real bonus for the north facing patio at the back of my house. They don’t like to be too hot, and they especially hate dry heat. Fuchsias are also much-loved for their long-flowering period from summer through into the autumn. They bear hanging bell-shaped flowers in a range of colours, including white, pink, purple and red, which are often referred to as ballerinas!
For those that get addicted, there’s a huge number of different fuchsia varieties available to grow – some are hardy, while others are half hardy and require winter protection. Hardy types are grown as garden shrubs, whilst half-hardy plants are ideal for using as bedding in summer displays in hanging baskets or pots.
So, what are some of my favourite garden fuchsias?
I have four old terracotta wall planters, also inherited from my Aunt. Each year they come out of storage and are planted up, with “Lena”, an award-winning trailing plant with semi-double flowers adorned with short, broad, green-tipped, creamy-pink sepals surrounding a violet corolla flushed pink, and with “Pink Temptation”, a creamy white and pink flower that forms a bushy plant and is very free flowering. They look amazing all summer on a north facing wall at the back of the house.
I have to confess to being a bit of a “royalist” so I acquired 2 new plants a few years ago, “Princess Charlotte” and “Prince George”! Both are pretty little plants. The former has distinctly shaped, upward facing blooms and the pendulous baby blue blooms of ‘Prince George’ hang on these compact fuchsia plants. They are perfect for patio container displays, or for creating a table top planter.
Another firm favourite is this old-fashioned hardy Fuchsia, magellicana Riccartonii which has small and delicate ballerina flowers of scarlet and dark purple that appear continuously from June right through until October, held amongst attractive bronzy dark green foliage. This is a very bushy growing shrub and has all kinds of uses, either in a mixed border where their foliage and flower colour will bring interest all season long, or plant them in a generous sized container. Mine are all hedge-like, in the ground at the back and one pictured at the side of the house facing the sea.
They grow well here but a cold winter and hard frosts can kill off the top growth back to ground level, new growth will emerge from the base in Spring, probably even stronger than before. It is a perfect plant for a coastal location.
Another favourite that has been planted in my beach garden, facing the sea, carefully positioned behind some breakwaters, is ‘Winston Churchill’. This is a deciduous shrub with double flowers with short, reflexed, pink sepals and tube blue-lavender tube petals, with pink veining. It comes back regularly every year and provides glorious colour amongst the shingle and grasses.
My final choice is an unusual fuchsia! It is “Arborescens” a fairly tender evergreen shrub with panicles of very small flowers which are rose or rose-purple followed by dark purple fruit. It is hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK, except in severe winters and a risk from sudden (early) frosts. I keep my three in containers and store in the greenhouse as a precaution, having lost a couple a few years ago just fleeced outdoors! This fuchsia is evergreen, comes from Mexico and grows as an erect shrub up to 6ft in height if you have room for it. It has large corymbs of rose-pink tubes and pale mauve corollas which are followed by spherical purple fruit. In a pot it needs to be chopped back to keep it under control.
On balance, you need to grow fuchsias in a sheltered spot, as the pendant flowers are easily blown off on the larger flowering varieties. They can cope with any type of soil but it must be well-drained. Full sun is ideal but a scorching south-facing spot or conservatory can be too much for them. If you’re growing fuchsias in pots under glass, avoid too much direct sunlight and try using some shading in the greenhouse or conservatory.
I have quite a few that are trained as standards. You can buy ready-grown plants, or, if you’re patient, try it yourself – it can take a number of years but taking cuttings from the plants is fairly easy. I’ve taken many from mine and sold them at open garden events in the past! When growing, remove the lower side shoots in spring and support the plant with a cane. If growing standard fuchsias in containers they’re often better with no underplanting as they’ll soon fill the pot. Sadly, I need to underplant mine to create the effect I require, which means more regular watering.
So, why not invest in some for your garden this Spring. At Richard Jackson Garden we are selling some lovely varieties, including these award-winning Bush Fuchsias, Hardy Fuchsias, and these beautiful Trailing Fuchsias.