Dictionary of Flowers: Fuchsia (Lady's Eardrops)

Incredible Fuschia flowers. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Tom Blackwell and Flickr
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Incredible Fuschia flowers. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Tom Blackwell and Flickr

  • Fuchsia 
  • Common name: fuchsia, lady's eardrops
  • Family:  Onagraceae
  • Category: frost sensitive annual, perennial in frost free zones, some species are root hardy to USDA zone 6
  • Height: 6" and up depending on species
  • Width: 12" to 24"
  • Part shade/dappled sun
  • Blooms: late spring to early fall
  • Attracts: hummingbirds
  • Growth habit: trailing, bushy, upright. Used as thriller or spiller in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, moist, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers. Never allow the soil to dry completely.
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, mixed border, indoor plant, standard
  • Diseases: rust, boytritys, sooty mold
  • Pests: whitefly, aphids, spider mites if grown indoors

There are more than a hundred species of fuchsia and thousands of varieties. This large genus is native of tropical regions where it acts as a perennial.

It is widely used as an annual garden ornamental, in hanging baskets, containers and window boxes.

Most fuchsias have a trailing growth habit, with arching branches. Some species have an upright habit.

The foliage is dark green and the flowers are pendulous with different colors for sepals and petals. 

Flowers range in color from white to shades of pink and red or purple. They can be double, semi-double or single.

Fuchsias are classified in three groups, according to their hardiness.

The hardy groups are root hardy to USDA zone 6 when grown on the ground. It requires pruning in spring to remove dead growth and mulching during winter to protect the roots in areas with winter frost.

Half-hardy fuchsias are perennial in frost free zones.

Standard fuchsias are frost tender and need to be overwintered indoors (standard fuchsia refers to the tree-like trained fuchsias).

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

All fuchsias need rich soil that is kept constantly moist, but not soggy. Using moisture retentive potting soil or crystals helps keep the potting mix from drying.

They need to be protected from drying winds and direct sun. Fuchsias grow best in a shade to part shade or filtered light position. They need to be away from midday sun. Deadhead fuchsias for continuous bloom.

Fertilize fuchsia with a liquid balanced fertilizer during spring and summer, or if fertilizing hardy or half-hardy fuchsias on the ground, topdress with compost in early spring. 

They are available for purchase during spring and summer in nurseries.

Fuchsias can be propagated by cuttings. Take small green cuttings in spring, with three sets of leaves. Remove all leaves, but the top ones.

Dip ends in rooting hormone and plant in moist light potting mix with perlite added. Keep moist and in the out of direct sun. The cuttings normally root in about two weeks.

Seed is available, but not easy to germinate. It takes anywhere between 14 and 24 weeks for fuchsia to bloom from seed and germination is erratic and requires artificial light to be provided. 




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Fuchsias can suffer from a variety of diseases and pests. Pests can be treated with insecticidal soap.

Mold and mildew or rust can be treated by applying a fungicide.

Popular varieties:

  • Fuchsia magellanica - upright, root hardy to USDA zone six. It can grow up to ten feet tall. Blooms in red and purple
  • Fuchsia triphylla - upright, perennial in zones 10 and 11. Treat as annual elsewhere. Two cultivars, both hybrids: 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' and 'Firecracker'. Both have orange/red flowers, Firecracker has variegated foliage. They can handle part sun.
  • Fuchsia hybrids - many available, check with local nursery or online retailer. Different sizes, colors and bloom shapes. Frost tender, treat as annuals or overwinter indoors in bright light.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

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