Fuchsia arborescens

Fuchsia arborescens

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 are easier to grow than the more flamboyant hybrid types. Some of them grow into quite substantial shrubs, including the so-called tree fuchsia, Fuchsia arborescens, from Mexico and Central America. I got it as a cutting from another keen gardener many years ago. It has posies of tiny rose-purple blooms for a long period in winter and spring, held above long, dark green leaves. I find it needs hard pruning after flowering, as it can get a bit straggly and woody over time; mine gets to about 2 m tall but it can grow much taller (up to 5.5 m or even more) if left unpruned. I think that it probably needs to be replaced by a freshly struck cutting after a few years when it has lost its vigour. It can be trained into a spectacular standard plant, if staked.

Like most Fuchsia, it will grow in 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. 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.

Flowers in June, July, August, September, October.