We are all familiar with the gorgeous hybrid Fuchsia, with their large flowers, frilly skirts and lovely colours, blooming in the warmer months. However, there are a number of lesser-known species Fuchsia that also will grow well in our Sydney gardens and some of them are easier to grow than the more flamboyant hybrid types. A most unusual species is one that I acquired last year at a little market in the NSW Southern Tablelands. I was told by the stallholder at the market that it was indeed a Fuchsia but she did not know its species name. It has tiny, trumpet-like, pink flowers and minute, notch-edged foliage on arching stems. After a bit of searching, I came up with the possible name of Fuchsia thymifolia (colloquially known as the 'thyme-leafed fuchsia'). It appears that it grows to around 60 cm in height and width. It comes from Mexico and North Guatamela and may become deciduous in very cold areas. Other possible names include Fuchsia microphylla subspecies hemsleyana and Fuchsia encliandra. A further possibility is Fuchsia x bacillaris, which is a natural hybrid of F. thymifolia and F. microphylla subspecies hemsleyana! All of these small Fuchsia are classified as 'Encliandra Fuchsia', which are miniature Fuchsia with very small flowers and leaves compared to other sorts of Fuchsia. Interestingly, they are cold-hardy, so useful for growing in cool-winter areas. Hopefully, one day I will find out the correct name. I have not yet seen it anywhere else. I am also not yet sure of the details of the extent of its flowering period but it seems to flower most in winter and early spring.
Like most Fuchsia, it will grow in shade or part-shade and likes a well-drained, humus-rich soil and some mulch during the warmer months. Like most Fuchsia, it does not like waterlogged soil, which can cause fungus problems. It can be pruned in late August to keep it compact, and every so often as required: the shape of the plant is rather wild! Propagation is by cuttings taken in autumn or spring. It is fairly frost tender but may survive winter in cold gardens if grown beneath a protective canopy of trees or other shrubs.
Postscript: I eventually took this plant out. It became scruffy over time and I didn't feel it flowered long enough to justify its existence. I still think it is rather cute, though!