Hardy fuchsias are commonly grown in UK gardens, and it's no surprise – many flower from June to November and need very little care. Native to Central and South America, most hardy fuchsias survive UK winters (RHS hardiness rating H4), although some may still require protection from the harshest weather (RHS hardiness rating H3 or H2). In milder parts of the UK, hardy fuchsias can grow into a shrub up to 3m in height but in colder regions they may be damaged by frost and require cutting back to the base, from where they regrow in spring.
Hardy fuchsias typically flower from late spring to late autumn, although in milder regions it's not unusual to see them blooming in November and December.
Like more tender fuchsias, hardy varieties evolved to be pollinated by hummingbirds, although they are still popular with UK pollinators such as honeybees and some species of bumblebee.
How can I tell if a fuchsia is hardy?
Hardy fuchsias are larger than tender varieties, with shrub-like, woody growth with stems thicker than 2cm, and an upright growth habit.
How to grow hardy fuchsia
Grow hardy fuchsia in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered spot such as in front of a sunny wall. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong blooming and apply a thick mulch in autumn to protect the roots from frost. In spring, cut back frost-damaged stems or cut the whole plant back to the base if there is lots of frost damage.
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Where to grow hardy fuchsia
Grow hardy fuchsias in a sheltered, sunny spot in moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil – hardy fuchsias are hungry plants so need a good soil to support them. They work well with a variety of other plants and can be grown as part of a mixed or woodland border. Pair with large-leaved or different-coloured plants for contrast and interest. While most varieties thrive in partial shade, those with paler flowers stand out more in shadier locations. Some types of hardy fuchsia do well in pots and hanging baskets, although will need regular feeding.
How to plant hardy fuchsia
Plant hardy fuchsias from mid- to late-spring. This will give them plenty of time to establish a solid root system before winter sets in, helping to increase their chances of surviving freezing temperatures and regrowing from the rootball in spring. Dig a planting hole and add a generous amount of well-rotted compost or manure. Position the rootball in the hole, making sure the base of the stem sits around 5cm below the soil surface (this will protect the roots from frost) and then backfill with soil and firm gently. Water thoroughly and continue watering in dry weather, until the plant shows signs of new growth.
How to care for hardy fuchsia
Hardy fuchsias are relatively easy to care for. Those growing in the ground should be kept moist so you may need to water them in dry weather. Those in pots should be watered more frequently. For optimum results you may want to feed fortnightly with a high potash fetilizer such as tomato food, to keep the plant looking its best. Feed pot-grown hardy fuchsias weekly. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers to develop.
In autumn, move pot-grown fuchsias under cover or into a more sheltered spot, to increase chances of them surviving winter.
Prune hardy fuchsias in mid-spring, after the plant has started to show signs of new growth. In colder regions, wait until all risk of frost has passed. Cut back frosted stems to live wood or – if severely damaged – back to the base of the plant, typically 7-10cm from the ground.
How to propagate hardy fuchsia
Hardy fuchsias are easy to propagate from hardwood cuttings.
- In late autumn, cut pencil-thick sections from woody stems and trim to around 15cm, with the base just below a pair of leaves. Remove the lowest pair of leaves
- Fill a 15cm pot with gritty, peat-free cuttings compost. Firm the compost and water well, allowing the water to drain. Push the cuttings into the compost around the edge of the pot, ensuring around half of each cutting is in the compost
- Place the pot in a cool, frost-free location such as an unheated greenhouse or cold frame, keeping the compost just damp. New shooots should appear by spring. Pot the cuttings into individual pots in late spring, after they have sprouted leaves and grown on
- Plant them into their final growing positions in early summer
Pests and diseases
Capsid bugs suck sap from new shoots, causing unsightly blemishes on the leaves and, in large enough numbers, can inhibit flowering. Natural predators include birds and ground beetles, so growing a wide range of plants and avoiding use of pesticides can facilitate natural pest control.
Advice on buying hardy fuchsias
- Make sure you have the right growing conditions for your hardy fuchsia before buying, especially if growing in pots
- Hardy fuchsias are available from a wide range of garden retailers but you will find more choice at specialist nurseries
- Always check plants for signs of pests and diseases before buying
Where to buy hardy fuchsias
Types of hardy fuchsia to grow
Fuchsia 'Alice Hoffman'
Fuchsia 'Alice Hoffman' is a small, bushy variety with standout white and pink blooms, set against bronze-green foliage. A particularly showy variety, it suits being grown alone in a large pot or container.
Height x Spread: 50cm x 50cm
This upright variety has bright pink sepals and cosmic purple petals. 'Beacon' looks beautiful planted alongside purple-leafed heucheras and pink-flowered astrantias that help to complement the colourful blooms.
H x S: 60cm x 60cm
Fuchsia 'Lady Boothby'
As a climbing fuchsia, 'Lady Boothby' can be trained to cover walls, obelisks and fences to create dramatic pillars of colour. This variety has fresh green foliage and deep pink and purple blooms.
H x S: 3m x 90cm
Fuchsia 'Rose of Castile' Improved
'Rose of Castile' is a vigorous, free-flowering cultivar with rosy, off-white sepals and purple-pink petals. Upright in habit, it's a good choice for training as a standard or against a wall.
H x S: 90cm x 90cm
This old variety was bred in 1897 by French horticulturist Victor Lemoine. 'Brutus' has since garnered a reputation as a reliable, vigorous and particularly free-flowering variety, with intense purple and pink blooms.
H x S: 90cm x 90cm
Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple'
Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple' is a popular variety bearing masses of blooms from early summer and into autumn. Given its bushy, upright growth habit it's a good option if you're looking to create a flowering hedge.
H x S: 1m x 1m
With pink, tapering sepals and rich purple petals, Fuchsia magellanica and its cultivars are decidedly elegant. They can reach a height of 150cm, or more in warmer climates, which is relatively large compared with most other fuchsias you might come across.
H x S: 2.5m x 2m