Hardy Fuchsia: Fuchsia Magellanica
Expand your view of fuchsia with a hardy bush fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica). This hearty beauty can grace landscapes in Zones 6 to 9 with reliable winter-hardy color. Hardy fuchsia boasts classic fuchsia flowers: dangling two-tone bells in shades of crimson and purple. The blooms are a hummingbird favorite.
Hardy fuchsia expands the capabilities of this flowering favorite, elevating the classic fuchsia from container plant to landscape shrub. It’s tough to beat a fuchsia for flowering volume and long window. These plants embody flower power, pumping out blooms from spring until frost. Hardy fuchsia is no exception.
Fuchsia magellanica and its hybrids are the hardiest fuchsias available. These extraordinary bloomers deliver reliable winter hardiness in Zones 6 to 9. Winter survival seems to depend in part on soil drainage. Well-drained soil helps hardy fuchsia survive wet winters, while fuchsias in heavy soils are more likely to succumb to winter kill. Combat heavy soil by adding organic matter, such as compost, or using raised beds.
When planting hardy fuchsia, you’ll improve the odds of winter survival by burying plants 2 to 6 inches deeper than you would normally tuck a plant into soil. Use the deeper figure in colder zones. Burying plants may cause them to emerge from soil a bit later in spring, but protecting the crown is worth the wait. In the course of a growing season, Fuchsia magellanica can grow 4 to 10 feet tall with a 3- to 6-foot spread—all covered with dangling blooms.
In winter, plants die to soil level, and new growth resumes from below ground in spring. Although some gardeners like to neaten their landscapes by removing dead perennial shrub stems in fall, it’s a good idea to leave fuchsia branches in place through winter. These branches help protect the plant’s crown as autumn leaves tend to collect there. It’s also wise to heap loose, well-draining mulch around the base of a hardy fuchsia. Aim for a layer that’s 4 to 6 inches deep.
Wait to prune hardy fuchsia until early spring, after new growth starts to show and all danger of frost is past. Remove the winter mulch, and cut plants back hard—to 3 to 4 inches tall. This hard pruning encourages plants to send up new growth from below ground, which means you’ll have more branches. Pinch stem growing tips to encourage branching and bushiness until the first flower buds start forming.
Like all fuchsias, hardy fuchsia is a heavy feeder. Work slow release fertilizer into the base of planting holes and also into soil you’ll tuck around the root ball. For established plants, scratch slow release fertilizer into soil in early spring and continue every four to six weeks until mid-August. This gives plants a chance to harden off new growth before frost arrives.
In the Pacific Northwest or foggy areas of Coastal California, tucking hardy fuchsia into a full sun location is fine. In sunnier regions, provide bright, indirect light. Morning sun and afternoon shade provide a terrific growing situation.