Anyone familiar with the winding roads of West Cork and Kerry will easily recognise the tubular red and purple flowers of the fuchsia, which grow wild along the roadsides. Due to our very temperate climate, fuchsias grow very well in the Cork region. This roadside species is called F. ‘Riccartonii', which is not in fact native to Ireland but the result of planted hedges whose seeds were scattered by different means over the years. Fuchsia ‘Riccartonii‘ makes a lovely hedge and grows very well in coastal areas.
Prized for their beautiful flowers, ease of care and long flowering season, fuchsias can be grown in containers, as hedges, specimen plants or in a boarder. The flowers can be single, double or semi- double in colours from deep purple, pink and white. Four waxy petals open out below the curved back sepals to form a bell, often in a contrasting colour. Fuchsias can be deciduous or evergreen, frost hardy or frost tender depending on the type. Hardy fuchsias will survive outdoors all year if planted in a well-drained site. Prolonged low temperatures like the ones we experienced during the winters of 2009/10 can cause loss of top growth, however if plants are cut back to ground level in spring, they will rejuvenate.
We asked the knowledgeable folk at The Pavillion Garden Centre for their top tips on fuchsia care:
Site demands: Plant in any well drained soil in full sun or partial shade.
Planting: If potted, fuchsias can be planted at any time depending on weather conditions.
Flowering time: Early summer to mid autumn.
Pruning: Cut out broken or spindly branches. If frost damaged, cut back to ground level.
Pests and diseases: Fuchsias may suffer red spider mite, greenfly, rust and bud drop. These are easily treated with insecticides and fungicides.
Bonus points: Many fuchsias attract bees and other insects.
Fuchsia ‘Tom Thumb’ is an early flowering upright shrub, bearing small single flowers with red sepals and purple petals. Height and spread 2ft x 2ft (60cm x 60cm)
Fuchsia ‘Riccartonii’ is a tall robust plant that has crimson sepals and purple petals. Height 7ft (210cm) and spread 4ft (120cm)