Fuchsias Then and Now
Posted: January 16, 2014
The genus was originally described in 1696, and named after the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566). In 1935 Liberty Hyde Bailey listed 30 species and varieties, but the species are not so easily found today in the USA. Today the species list is about 100, and cultivars number in the thousands. It is possible to obtain F. magellanica, F. boliviana, and F. corymbiflora if one seeks them out, but more often it is the hybrids of species that are sold. The hybrids are usually combinations of at least three species.
Fuchsias grow well in cooler temperatures, and until recently were unsuited to hot conditions, unless grown in a cooler microclimate. Bloom is diminished with temperatures over 76 degrees F. typically. Many gardeners and greenhouse operations in Europe, New England, and in the Pacific Northwest of the USA produce fuchsias. The Northwest Fuchsia Society, located in Washington State does list a considerable number of supposedly heat tolerant selections. Also Clemson University provides some good information on fuchsias, and states there are some good cultivars for warmer climates.
However recently, breeders have been working on heat tolerant cultivars, and Suntory has offered a line of heat tolerant types sold as the Angel Earrings series, which are trademarked. This series has red and purple, mauve, and white selections. At the Landisville Plant Trials one selection from the Ecke Ranch Inc. was tested in 2013. The cultivar ‘City Lights’ did not ace the testing program, but it looked pretty good in September and October, blooming nicely as the temperatures got a bit cooler. Since PA is listed as a hot humid climate, it is not surprising that ‘City Lights’ did not make the “Best of The Trials” list, and only scored a 3.8 overall rating in 2013. Yet for a fuchsia it did well in my opinion, and would be a good plant for a cool micro-climate in season, and a very nice containerized plant in the fall. Fuchsias can go down to 45 degrees F without injury, so fall may be the best season to enjoy them in PA.
These plants are propagated sometimes by seed, but more typically by cuttings. Typically 1% IBA powder or talc is used, but some cultivars will root readily with no hormone addition.Rooting temperatures should be 74-76 degrees F for the speediest results but will root successfully albeit more slowly at temperatures in the 60’s. Rooting time is usually 14-21 days with the temperatures above 74. Cuttings are frequently done in the fall and winter months, because as day length increases flowering will also increase, slowing the vegetative growth. Of course it is not legal to propagate patented or trademarked plants without a license, and growers usually buy the rooted cuttings from the breeding companies and produce those appealing hanging baskets to be sold in spring and summer.
Fuchsias are high feeding plants, and like to receive 200 ppm’s of fertilzer in most cases, but if overheated that can be a bad strategy so when temperature climb over 76-78 degrees, the rate should be diminished or it is likely that root rot will ensue. ‘Gartenmeister’ and F. magellanica are two forms that can be propagated legally, and perform well here in PA especially if set in a cool site. These are upright in their habit, and if dug up before winter, can be held in a greenhouse or sunroom as long as it isn’t too hot. Placed back in the garden in spring, they can give a good show.
TitleFuchsias Then and Now
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