The Hardy Fuchsias of Fall

Fuchsia 'Santa Claus'
Fuchsia ‘Santa Claus’
Size: 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide
A grouping of these heat-tolerant, 3-foot-tall plants offers up a visual treat whenever they are in bloom. Like Christmas ornaments, the red-reflexed sepals open to reveal pure-white corollas streaked with red veining, while rose-pink stamens dangle below. The bright colors of summer come to life when this fuchsia is paired with a deep blue, lace-capped hydrangea, which flowers at the same time.

It is said that people who love fuchsias, really love them. With three generations of fuchsia lovers in my family, I was destined to fall in love with them too.

I remember my grandmother’s hanging baskets overflowing with fuchsia branches smothered in blousy, red and white flowers. My family sat on a deck and chatted with Grandma while she tended her beautiful baskets. Her nimble fingers quickly pinched off the faded blossoms. I sat on her deck mesmerized by the hummingbirds buzzing in to drink the nectar from the flowering baskets above me.

When I purchased my first fuchsia basket, I chose the blousy red and white flowers of Fuchsia “Swingtime,” similar to the ones that my grandmother grew. Years later when I spotted a 6-foot-tall, hardy fuchsia growing in a lightly shaded woodland garden, I began a lifelong love affair with the genus.

Many fuchsias come from the cloud-infested, higher elevations in the Southern hemisphere forests. It’s not surprising that fuchsias thrive in our cool maritime climate. Hardy fuchsias easily fit into almost any landscape, from woodland gardens to formal ones. You can utilize them as seasonal hedges, cascading down walls, housed in containers or nestled into a mixed border. Wherever you plant them, they will bring a long season of color for the hotter days of summer well into the cooler days of fall.

During mild winters, hardy fuchsias loose their leaves with minimal stem dieback. However, about every four to five years, this area experiences a colder than normal winter that freezes the hardy fuchsias down to the ground. This isn’t a problem since they sprout again from the roots and by midsummer flower as profusely as before. Low-maintenance plants once well established, fuchsias are surprisingly drought-tolerant in mild climate. However, for optimum growth and flowers, they prefer a moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil. The following are a few select fuchsias.


Planting and Growing Fuchsias


In the spring or early summer, choose a well-drained spot in your garden. Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball, and then mix in a handful of complete organic fertilizer. For a small plant, dig the hole deep enough that half the plant goes under the soil. For larger plants, place the crown 6 inches deeper.

Local Garden Clubs and Societies 2014 Resource List

Bainbridge Garden Club
2nd Monday at 9:30 a.m.
Bainbridge First Baptist Church

Bayshore Garden Club
2nd Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Longbranch Fire Station

Central Valley Garden Club
1st Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Central Valley Community Club
10140 Central Valley Rd NW, Poulsbo

Cross Sound District Meetings
Design and horticulture displays are open to the public at no charge at noon
Bremerton West Side Improvement Club
4100 E Street, Bremerton
Patricia Grimes, membership chair

Evergreen Garden Club
3rd Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
North Mason Bible Church

Fuchsia Society
3rd Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Clearbrook Inn
12295 Schold Place NW, Silverdale

Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula Area Garden Clubs
Contact Judy Swortz

Hansville Garden Club (Flotsam and Jetsam)
3rd Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
Buck Lake Community Center
6778 Buck Lake Rd, Hansville

Kitsap County Rose Society
2nd Monday at 7 p.m.
Kitsap Fire Station 41
7600 Old Military Road NE, Bremerton

Kitsap Dahlia Society
3rd Thursday at 7 p.m.
Crystal Grange Hall
2160 Paulson Rd, Poulsbo

Long Lake Garden Club
3rd Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
Manchester Library

Master Gardener Foundation of Kitsap County
General board meeting — 1st Wednesday at
1 p.m. Seminars — selected 3rd Wednesdays at 1 p.m. See website for dates and locations

Peninsula Fruit Club
2nd Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.
Sheridan Park Community Center
680 Lebo Blvd, Bremerton

Poulsbo Garden Club
2nd Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
Poulsbo Library

Backfill the hole halfway with soil and water it in. After backfilling the rest of the hole and watering again, mulch the fuchsia lightly with compost or composted manure. When fall arrives, spread an additional 6 inches of mulch over the plant. When spring comes around and the leaves begin to open, prune back about half of the previous year’s growth.

If the plant dies back to the ground in winter, prune the dead stems to the ground. Fertilize your fuchsias once in spring and again in early summer and add a yearly mulch of compost or manure.