Fuchsia Fanatics: The Fancy Plants of Late Summer

Photos by Ryan Benoit

Not a whole lot’s blooming in our garden (now that our passion flowers are giving way to passionfruit!) — with one silky exception.

Our fuchsia plant is, yes, sorry, no other way to say it, on fleek right now. One of the shadiest spots in the yard is also the most colorful thanks to these pendulous, gem-toned flowers that resemble a brigade of flying party dresses.

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Our yard contains mostly leafy greens at the moment, except for some pops of pink…

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Our Fuchsia ‘Voodoo’ bush grows out of a repurposed ship whistle. (Totally normal.)

Fuchsia - The Horticult

That ‘Voodoo’ that you do so well…

This is the same ‘Voodoo’ fuchsia we picked up during our visit to Weidner’s two years ago. For the last six weeks, the shrub has been dangling its dramatically scrolled blossoms from stems reaching over four feet in length, growing from a repurposed ship whistle.

Fuchsia is an awesome, wide-ranging genus, and home to about 110 species and over 8,000 varieties, according to SF Gate. You can find them in bush form, vine form, as upright plants/trees or (often) hanging fancily from baskets. Many fuchsias are native to South America, but you’ll also find some indigenous to Central America, Mexico, Oceana, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. Cultivars like ‘Molonae’ and ‘Neon Tricolor’ are hardy to Zone 7a, down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Here’s a Fuchsia boliviana we spotted at Jardín Botánico de Quito! Berries produced by this species are known for their sweetness. Most other species produce more bitter- or blah-tasting berries.

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Alas, this is the last photo we have of a pale pink fuchsia that lived in our garden for a couple of months before tragedy struck and our irrigation dripper fell out of the pot. It took one week for the plant dry out. We couldn’t recover it!

Fuchsia - The Horticult

A ruffly darling at Weidner’s.

Sunlight and heat tolerances can vary, but most of the fuchsias we’ve encountered prefer bright shade, and get zapped by high temperatures and humidity levels. Under the cool canopy of our tangerine tree, our ‘Voodoo’ has unleashed its silky sorcery.

Some care tips (from the pros at Weidners):

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Fuchsia - The Horticult

We cut back the plant in the winter and fertilize once a month with a balanced fertilizer.

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Ta-da!

Plus, fuchsias are edible! You can eat the leaves, the flowers, the berries; fruit flavors can range from insipid to odd to delicious. So delicious you can make jam. Check it out below: We experimented with eating the flowers and using them as a cocktail garnish. Turns out, fuchsia branches also make great arrangements. How are fuchsia bouquets not more of a thing?

For care, history and inspiration, Fuchsias in the City is a rabbit hole of deep fuchsia knowledge. R. Theo Margelony grows his plants among the high-rises of Manhattan alongside other “shady urban things” like hostas, ferns and astilbes. His garden is fascinating, his blog is super fun, and he has a great guide on where to buy.

So, readers, what’s happening in your late-summer garden? Let us know in the comments!

—TH

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Wait for the berries to turn deep purple before eating.

Fuchsia - The Horticult Fuchsia - The Horticult

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Ryan forages in our yard for some late-night blooms for tonight’s salad and cocktail.

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Branchy arrangement in late summer? Oui, c’est possible!

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Peel off the petals and add them to your salads. All parts of a fuchsia are edible.

Fuchsia - The Horticult

Here’s our fuchsia twist on the classic Manhattan cocktail: 2 oz rye whiskey, 1 oz sweet vermouth, 3 dashes bitters, stirred…Garnish with a blossom, and instead of a cherry, drop in a fuchsia berry.

Fuchsia - The Horticult Fuchsia - The Horticult

  • Tommy Ogren

    Your fuchsias look awesome! Thanks for tipping us off that they’re edible….I’m going to try one today. When I was in New Zealand they had fuchsia trees that were 40 feet tall and had trunks a foot wide….but their flowers couldn’t compare to your ‘Voodoo” !

    • WHATTTT. Fuchsias are truly incredible! We’re excited about how the ‘Voodoo’ is doin’ — and hoping to spread more fuchsia magic around the world. Thank you for the kind words on our blooms, Tommy!

  • lynn neagley

    Thanks for the shout out to Weidner’s! Truly a San Diego treasure and this article & your stunning photos reminded me of the first time I visited them15 years ago! I’m now planning a road trip up there from North Park. Thanks to you both for this and all your posts, photos and The Horticult!

    • Ooooh, YES! We’re looking forward to the next Dig Your Own at Weidner’s — pansies in winter, we believe. It truly is a SoCal treasure.