Technically, fuchsia constitutes any species belonging to the Fuchsia genus of plants. Various species, cultivars and hybrids of fuchsia appear in gardens and landscaping environments throughout the United States, most of them derived from Fuchsia magellanica, Fuchsia coccinea, and Fuchsia fulgens. These bushes, native to Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina, display long, tubelike flowers in a variety of colours. Though native to warm countries, fuchsia grows primarily in temperate climates and expresses a growth habit based on climate.
Fuchsia Growth Habit
Fuchsia plants are shrubs, or bushes. Like trees, bushes fall under the perennial classification because they live for a much longer time than a single year. Thus, technically, all fuchsia plants exhibit perennial growth habits. However, fuchsias only exhibit perennial growth when grown in the optimal environment. Fuchsia exhibits ideal growth in USDA zones 6 through 9, or areas with an average annual minimum temperature range of -10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. When grown in zones other than these, the growth habits of fuchsia changes to match the climate.
Fuchsia in Warm Climates
Many gardeners in warm regions like North and South Carolina grow fuchsia and their various cultivars and hybrids. According to Clemson University horticulturalists Bob Polomski and Janet McLeod Scott, the heat and humidity of the American South presents problems for fuchsia bushes. Polomski and Scott write that many southern gardeners grow fuchsia as a potted flower. Rather than growing an entire bush, these gardeners grow a few flowering limbs of fuchsia in a pot. When grown in this manner, fuchsia plants grow as annuals.
Fuchsia in Cold Climates
While fuchsia bushes don't grow well in warm climates due to the heat, they die without fail in regions with average annual temperatures colder than that of zone 6. Illinois exhibits zone 5 climate through most of the state, as does neighbouring state Iowa. University gardening resources for both of these states list fuchsia as an annual flower suited for growth in containers. Iowa State University horticulturalists recommend watering fuchsia twice per day during spring in zone 5 to ensure that plant flowers before dying.
More Information on Fuchsia
Some hybrids and cultivars of fuchsia tolerate cold or warm environments better than others. To find cultivars, or which more as many as 5000 exist, suitable for your garden, visit a local nursery, greenhouse or garden supply store and ask about types of fuchsia suited for growth in your region.
Fuchsia germinates in 3 to 4 weeks when grown in soil with a temperature of 21.1 to 23.9 degrees Celsius. Fuchsia grown in containers can be seeded indoors during the late winter/early spring.
- Fine Gardening: Fuchsia magellanica
- Clemson University; Fuchsia; Bob Polomski et al; 1999
- University of Illinois Extension: Fuchsia
- Washington State University; Fuchsia; 2008
- United States National Arboretum: USDA Zone Map
- Iowa State University; Growing Annuals in Containers; Cindy Haynes et al; 2008