Do any of you grow fuchsias in the SF Bay area?

jacqueline9CAJanuary 20, 2014

This is off topic - sorry. I did post it on the fuchsia forum, but then I looked at the posts and realized that forum only has about one post every 2 months! So, posting on here because I know I will get advice sooner than 2 months from now - here is what I posted:

"I have only ever grown two fuchsias, so please pardon my ignorance. I am looking for suggestions to replace one of them, which I'm pretty sure is rootbound (it has been in its pot for 10+ years), and has been declining. My plan is to take it out of its pot and re-pot it, but I also need suggestions to replace it in case it doesn't make it. To my regret I have practically no pictures of it - a very bad one is attached, which was taken by accident - it was in the background of another pic I was taking.
It is growing in a large cylindrical shaped pot (ie round with straight sides) which is 16 inches in diameter and 14 inches high. It sits on the landing of our front stairs, which gets full sun. Right next to where the pot is is a wall which is about 2 1/2 feet high, so the actual pot is shaded from the afternoon sun. To my astonishment, soon after I planted the original one, it grew up about 2 feet, and then leaped over the wall (which is 2 1/2 feet tall on one side, but 10 feet above the ground on the other, as the landing is at the level of the second story) and cascaded down about 5-6 feet towards the ground.

It looked fantastic, and bloomed almost continuously. Our climate is Mediterranean - hot dry summers and cool wet winters. (Right now it has decided to be a desert climate - no rain to speak of for the last 13 months, but that is not normal, and hopefully it will rain some day).

We are zone 9, and this winter we did get below freezing for several nights in a row. When that has happened before, both of my fuchsias have looked dead, but have come back.

So, any recommendations? I want one that has what I think of as "normal" fuchsia flowers, not those teenie tiny or long skinny ones. The most important thing is that it would also cascade down the side of our front stairs - that looked so amazing, and everyone thought I had planned it!

Thank you so much for any ideas you may have - probably folks in this area who grow fuchsias that cascade may have the best experience to help me."


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Jackie, why not take cuttings of the one you have, as insurance? Then you'll have one you know will be capable of cascading that far and one that doesn't seem to be a mite-magnet (that's a chronic problem here for larger-flowered fuchsias except, in my limited experience, the wonderful Marinka, so mine are mostly the small-flowered, mite-resistant kinds).

Green-stemmed cuttings of fuchsias taken in late spring/early summer will root easily even in a vase of water -- I keep vases next to the kitchen sink for just that purpose: fuchsias, begonias, coleus...

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 3:19PM
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Campanula UK Z8

I echo Catspa - there is nothing so easy to root as a fuschia. Yours sounds a good vigorous scrambler - not all of them will do this - some grow as upright bushes (but will make good standards) so when you have one already fit for purpose, it makes sense to make a few back-ups.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:27PM
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Thanks so much! I have never tried to root a fuchsia - could I just put a cutting in a pot with potting soil and put it under the upside down fish tank on my glassed-in back porch (kitties sit on top of the fish tank because they don't want the rooting cuttings to get too much light)?


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:23PM
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If it's any help, I grow Fuchsia magellanicas in Portland in partial shade and only somewhat amended soil. Both the variegated and nonvariegated ones thrive but lose their leaves in winter and die back to the ground during many winters. When the magellanicas act like perennials, I cut the dead shoots to soil level in spring and the plants bounce right back to shrublet size. A friend in SF grows big fluffy fuchsias with great success.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:13PM
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Hi Jackie,

I would check out the fuchsia descriptions at Annie's Annuals.

Maybe 'Venezuela' or 'Nettala' for your purposes?

I grow 'Mrs McDowell'. It has blooms similar to the fuchsia my grandmother grew in pre-mite days.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fuchsia at Annie's Annuals

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Brenda - thanks for the link! I love Annie's Annuals. I have a question about your Mrs McDowell - what kind of sun/shade are you growing it in, and how big did it get? The other two you mentioned are unfortunately not available right now from AA, but that one is.

I am going to try and root mine, but I think I am also going to order a Mrs McDowell - I can plant it somewhere else. We have plenty of shade in our garden, so if it needs shade that is not a problem. Anxious to hear about yours - thanks.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 10:07AM
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Hi Jackie,

I just planted Mrs McDowell a few months ago. She is in a mostly shady spot on the western side of our house, next to our Meyer lemon tree. Strange spot for a Meyer lemon but it is well established and produces enough lemons for our household. The area gets dappled light.

Mrs McDowell seems happy enough even though the location is far away from any garden hose and has barely been watered, which is a big deal considering how dry we have been.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 6:27PM
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FYI: I have a neighbor here with a big fluffy fuchsia (not magellanica) of some kind. I'm planning to ask her for a cutting or two. If she agrees and they root, I'd be glad to send you a pic and a cutting if you'd like one. I don't know the variety but it looks very much like the one in your photos, and since it survives and thrives in PDX, I know it will love your climate. (I suspect the variety is the one my SF friend grows.) Keep your fingers crossed that my neighbor is a plant swapper, and let me know if you'd like dibs on an extra plant.

The one in your photo is lovely. Your garden is so sweet!


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:48AM
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daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metres

Jackie, I am not in the SF bay area, but I think our climate is similar.
Fuchsias generally don't like it here at all, probably too dry.
The local market have young fuchsia plants in the spring.
I have tried a few, but none of them are happy here.
Except this one.

This is Fuchsia triphylla. It could be an old variety called Mary.
A cutting was given to me by the lady who runs our village shop 5 years ago.
I planted it where it is mainly in shade and it grew fast.
It was flowering within 2 weeks of being planted and it HAS NEVER BEEN OUT OF FLOWER SINCE.
It is amazing. When I say that it has not been out of flower, I mean fully flowering, not just a few flowers hanging on in mid winter or mid summer.
It is about 6 feet tall and is very easy from cuttings.
It is worth trying to find this one. There is nothing to touch it for flower power.
Here it is with a self sown verbascum.

...and here with Dahlia Firepot.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:41AM
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Before I got the rose bug I was all fuchsias all the time. The local growers here like 1/3 redwood compost, 1/3 potting soil and 1/3 aged manure+peat moss. Try to get horse manure. I turn mine into the ground and let it comopst for at least 6 months. Then I add 1/2 sand because my soil is heavy on the clay and that is what I use in the manure part of the recipe. If your potting mix does not have much perlite then add a few good handfulls if you are growing in a hanging moss lined basket or a redwood planter. I like clay planters for the ones that don't hang. My favorites are the tree ( standard) shaped ones. They are easy to make and take about 2 years to grow.

In the ground, omit the perlite and add more sand plus the planting mix above. Put a sturdy pipe or post in to support tree shapes or large trellised plants. You don't want to break brittle wood later when the trellis starts wobbling.

Some of the most beautiful fuchsias I ever saw were around SF and down near Newport Beach - Laguna. San Diego has some beauties too. It's a bit too warm here these days near Disneyl;and for great results with the fluffy ones. The smaller or long trumpet kinds take the hotter temps better. Fuchsias will collapse even when wet at temps above 95. Every year I lose approx 80 percent of the big fluffy ones. Dragging the pots into the garage with a swamp cooler helps but I can't always do it.

In pots, try and keep the root mass larger than the top and in the ground, the bigger the better. To avoid a long stretched stem when you aren't making a tree shape, you just have to keep pruning and give as bright a light as the plant will handle without burning. If you have a stretched stem already, bury it in the mix recipe above and wait for it to root. Happy fuchsia paradise to you!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:12PM
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Thanks everyone for all of the good advice! Daisy - those pics are gorgeous! Kitty - thank you very much - the potting mix suggestion is exactly what I was wanting.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:52AM
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