A New Year’s resolution is supposed to be about curbing bad habits or getting healthier or spending more time doing that one thing you keep putting off. So I’ve decided to stop putting off buying fuchsias. Fuchsia magellanica, that is, the hardy kind for Northwest gardens. Fuchsias are gorgeous, medium-sized shrubs that thrive here in the Northwest. They add a tropical feel to the garden with their gorgeous tubular flowers and overly long stamens and pistils. Their form is pleasing, a bit messy, but rounded and lovely with the arching branches. It’s an easily pruned shrub that you can cut back by at least half in early early spring and not kill the plant. Plus, they attract hummingbirds! Who doesn’t love a busy little hummingbird?
But the most compelling reason for me to add more fuchsias this year is the shrub’s capacity to deal with half-day shade and then a steady blast of hot, mid-day sun. I have a bizarro lot where most of my tall trees are on the east, making for a shady morning and hot afternoon. Possibly the suckiest of all suckiest growing situations. Lots of shrubs love morning sun but don’t want to cook in the afternoon heat. Anything that loves to cook in the afternoon heat won’t want to sit and get leaf spot or root rot for half the day in the shade. Great! So what does one do? (And though I have found other answers) I discovered the prettiest choice during these last couple of growing seasons is fuchsias.
Of course, I shouldn’t be too surprised since they are native to South America where it’s either tropical or subtropical. But I didn’t count on them being so darn adaptable. A couple of summers ago, I thought I’d take a chance and plant two in my partly shaded border that gets a five or more-hour blast of sun in summer. They sailed through. On particularly hot days when everything else needed a drink, so did they. But I was blown away by how hardy and amenable these traditionally part-shade plants were to suntanning. They did even better than the lace cap Hydrangea macrophylla already there when we bought the house. I have other fuchsias in other parts of the yard that are shadier and they’re happy too — which only deepens my respect for this gem of a plant.