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Hardy Fuchsia, or Fuchsia magellanica, is a deciduous shrub that blooms dangling, trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of red, pink, purple and white. Sometimes referred to as "Hummingbird Fuchsia," this plant has a long history of popularity, dating back several hundred years when the English would import the plants from their native South America. From such delicate beginnings, the decorative fuchsia evolved into a more resilient alternative. The hardy fuchsia can add a tropical feel to gardens much further north than its original ancestors.
Grown in USDA hardiness zones six through nine, the hardy fuchsia seems to thrive on the humid temperate conditions of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. This plant endures winter temperatures down to 25° Fahrenheit (-3.88° Celsius) by going dormant. Reducing the amount of water and new growth is essential to helping the plants survive until the next spring. The hardy fuchsia can survive with a minimal amount of care once fully established in the garden.
These garden shrubs can grow to be nearly 10 ft. (3.04 m) in height and 6 ft. (1.82 m) in width. Abundant pendulous flowers accent the deep green foliage from early summer to mid-fall and hummingbirds are attracted to the color and shape of the fuchsia blooms and aid in their pollination. Moist fertile soil that is well drained is the preferred substrate for this varietal of fuchsia. Morning sun and afternoon shade will produce the best results for a hardy fuchsia plant, as it prefers light shade, especially in warmer climates where the intensity of the sun is stronger. Its tolerance of salt makes this plant a good pick for coastal area gardens.
Fertilizer rich in nitrogen in the spring will encourage new growth; fertilizer high in potassium in the summer helps to sustain a continuous bloom. Small cuttings from softwood stems in the spring or late summer will provide the best success for propagating. Seed plantings should be done in the spring once the soil is remaining between 60° and 75° F (15.5° and 23.8° C). The small dark purple fruit less than 1 inch (2.54 cm) long produced by the hardy fuchsia is edible. Sometimes compared to a very mild grape flavor, the fruit is rarely eaten raw, but has been used in jam.
Problems that can occur with these ornate deciduous shrubs are spider mites, gray mold, gall mites, aphids, scale insects and white flies. Of these, spider mites, gall mites and white flies are the more common. Protection against these pests is usually available from most garden stores. Removing the seeds once the flowers have ended, called deadheading, will help prolong the flowering of a fuchsia.