Fuchsias that are hardy in Britain
Fuchsias that are hardy in Britain are in the minority. The vast majority are not hardy enough to survive our winters outside without protection.
But due to climate change our winters have already become milder. This means that more fuchsias will survive outside without protection in the future.
This is surely good news for UK gardeners as there are few garden plants that are as easy to grow and that provide so many blooms over such a long period.
Fuchsias that are hardy in Britain generally start to bloom in late May. They then continue to bloom into early winter.
But if your garden is near the coast you may find that fuchsias that are hardy bloom in every month of the year!
Small Flower Fuchsias that are Hardy
Now naturalised along the extremities of Britain [South West Peninsula, Welsh and Scottish coast and south western tip of Ireland] the smallest flowered hardy fuchsias have flourished.
These are generally forms of Fuchsia magellanica. It is little wonder that it flourishes here when one considers that it comes from the southern most tip of South America.
Fuchsia magellanica grows tall, often reaching as high as 2.5 m, and it is very wind tolerant.
This would explain why it has been a popular choice planted as a windbreak to protect early flower and vegetable crops in the extreme south west.
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii’ has masses of tiny red and blue flowers, ‘Hawkshead’ [see main image] palest pink to white.
There are several varieties noted for their variegated or golden leaf colour [see ‘Aurea’ pic].
Large Flower Fuchsias that are Hardy
There are perhaps a dozen or so varieties that are considered reliably hardy although none are suitable for cold gardens.
Most popular among these fuchsias that are hardy is ‘Mrs Popple’. This old variety has large has scarlet sepals and violet petals making it a showy shrub.
Fuchsia Genii has similar coloured flowers but bright golden foliage.
One of the finest is ‘Chillerton Beauty’ which has soft pink sepals and violet central petals.
Having smaller flowers than most in this group ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ is a popular choice for planting which may be influenced by its name!
Where space is limited it is worth considering planting the hardy fuchsias ‘Tom Thumb’ or ‘Lady Thumb’. These are extremely compact growing but produce just as many flowers as the bigger varieties.
A variety with silver variegated foliage is also popular but it has two names which can be confusing. It is well worthgrowing and is useful since it has a low spreading growth habit. Whether you call it ‘Tom West’ or ‘Sunray’, it’s a very striking and reliable shrub.
All the above hardy fuchsias have single flowers.
However there are some very showy double flowered ones too. ‘Garden News’ has soft pink sepals with rich red double central petals. ‘Madame Cornelissen’ has red sepals with full double white petals. Both are very showy and prolific hardy fuchsias.
What Hardy Fuchsias like
Soils that remain fairly cool and moist are preferred by fuchsias.
These soils should also provide plenty of nitrogen and potash nutrients since hardy fuchsias are hungry feeders.
It pays to incorporate plenty of organic matter into the soil before planting and to apply thick organic mulch every year. It is a good policy to apply this in early winter as this will give added frost protection to the base of the shrubs.
Avoid planting in hot dry places.
Hardy fuchsias are a good choice for cool and moist shady places.
Hellebores like similar garden conditions to Fuchsias and so you might like to consider planting them to provide colour in your garden when fuchsias are dormant.
Pests and diseases
Fuchsia have few pests but are an attractive target for vine weevils. Keep a sharp watch out for these and control with the nematode natural predators. These are readily available online from companies such as Nematodes Direct.
Fuchsia Flea Beetle can spoil the look of leaves but is easily controlled with SB Invigorator or with conventional chemical pesticides.
A new pest on the scene is the fuchsia gall mite and there appears to be no chemical control of this worrying new pest at the moment. Plants infected should be destroyed. Damage caused by the gall mite results in distorted and gnarled growth.
During damp summers fuchsia rust can be problematic. Overcrowding and poor air circulation can encourage the spread of rust. Often this disease will also be found on the weed called Willow Herb [Epilobium species] and so it is important to control this weed to reduce the likelihood of infection. Several garden fungicides will control rust.