Fuchsias - Hardy to Zone 6
F. magellanica (crimson sepals/purple corolla, 6’, zones 4-9)
F. magellanica var. gracilis (scarlet sepals/purple corolla, 36”)
*in the USA a.k.a., ‘Senora’
F. magellanica var. molinae (white sepals/lilac blush corolla, 48”)
*sometimes referred to a F. magellanica alba incorrectly
*in the USA a.k.a., ‘Maiden’s Blush’
F. magellanica var. pumila (scarlet sepals/mauve corolla, 18”)
F. magellanica var. riccartonii (red sepals/purple corolla, 48”)
F. Mrs. Popple (scarlet sepals/violet-purple corolla, 48”)
Fuchsias - Hardy to Zones 6-7
F. Baby Blue Eyes (red sepals/lavender corolla, 36”)
F. Charming (reddish-cerise sepals/rosy-purple corolla, 27”)
F. Cliff’s Hardy (crimson-tipped green sepals/campanula-violet corolla, 22”)
F. Display (rose-pink sepals/darker pink corolla, 24”)
F. Empress of Prussia (scarlet sepals/reddish-magenta corolla, 36”)
F. Genii (cerise sepals/violet corolla, 28”)
*a.k.a., F. Jeanne
F. Hawks head (white sepals/white corolla, 48”)
F. Monsieur Thiabaut (red sepals/mauve-purple corolla, 33”)
F. Rufus (turkey-red sepals and corolla, 21”)
*sometimes incorrectly named ‘Rufus the Red’
F. Brutus (sepals red/corolla dark purple, 24")
When planted correctly outside, hardy fuchsias should survive winter temperatures down to -10 degrees F.
- Good drainage
- Sandy soils need extra organic material
- Clay soils need organic material, coarse sand and grit to improve drainage
- Fuchsias planted in the ground can tolerate sun as long as they are kept watered during dry spells and have shade from the midday and early afternoon sun
Planting Directions: New stems grow from old stems so you can't plant shallowly. Dig a hole 12" wide x 4" deep, amend the soil if needed. In the center of your hole dig another, deeper hole, where the rootball will be planted. When you plant the fuchsia in the second, deeper hole, the crown of the plant should be 1" below the bottom of the 4" hole. In other words, there should be a 5" depth measuring from the plants crown to surrounding soil level of your garden bed. Gradually over time, fill in the 12" depression until the soil level around the fuchsia is 5" deep. What you are doing is burying a 5" section of the plants stem above the crown of the plant. From this buried section of stem the plant will form a lot of underground stems that have growing points that will emerge in the spring, and the more large leaves on these stems, the stronger the plant is and the better it can rebound from winter damage. These new underground stems will come from the part of the fuchsia you have been building soil around through the growing season. The best time of year to plant a cold-hardy fuchsia in zone 6 is in the spring after the last frost. To winterize your fuchsia, mound mulch, peat, a combination of both, around the base of the plant. When I do mine next year, I'm going to mound a combination of mulch, peat and fallen leaves around the fuchsias and put a screen around the mulch to keep the winter layer from blowing away.
Winter Care for Hardy Beds:
- Let frost kill the leaves. Remove any remaining leaves that have not fallen.
- Cut back any non-woody growth (about 1/3 of the plant).
- Winterize the base of the plant with a thick layer of dry leaves, straw, mulch, compost…
- When green shoots appear at the base of hardy fuchsias, prune back the plant hard
- Work into the soil a general fertilizer
- Add a mulch of compost to soil surface
While researching Fuchsias I came across a lot of information that varied from one book to another, from one web source to another. Same plant, different hardy zones. Same plant, different heights. Same plant, different names.
Of all the books I own, and have gotten through the library, the 2 best resources I use for cold hardy fuchsais are:
“Fuchsias; A Practical Guide to Cultivating Fuchsias, with over 450 Beautiful Photographs and Illustrations” by John Nicholass
“DK Garden Guides: Fuchsias”
Unfortunately, the authors of these books don’t agree on everything.
Example: DK lists F. magellanica var. molinae as growing up to 12’ tall, whereas, John Nicholass lists the same plant at 48”. Big Difference!
Also, DK and Mr. Nicholass don’t always agree on zones. DK lists plants at zone 7, Mr. Nicholass lists the same plant hardy to zone 6. A “Fully Hardy” plant in DK is only hardy to zone 7 in Mr. Nicholass’ book.
Even information I found in the DG Plant Files differed greatly from info in the books, such as zones and plant dimensions.
So I make a judgment call when it comes time to post my findings. Sometimes it comes down to trial and error what we plant in our gardens. In one book I got from the library I read it is possible to stretch the hardy zones by 1 or 2 colder zones if the fuchsia is planted properly and heavily mulched for winter protection. In other words, a zone 6 cold hardy might survive in zone 5 or zone 4.
This message was edited Nov 15, 2009 4:58 PM
Cold Hardy Fuchsias to Zone 6 (maybe zones 4-5)
Fuchsias - Hardy to Zone 6
K.! Was speaking with Tropicman to see if he has tried fuschias. (He lives in the same zone as I do and does nothing but tropicals.) He said he has killed every one he tried. Worries me because he is so experienced. I am gonna try one in the spring anyway!
Not all zones are created equally. A zone 6 in the midwest can be very different, climate wise, than a zone 6 in the northwest, or the northeast. Which zone 6 is Tropicman in? Find out which varities he tried. Ask him how deep he planted them and location (east, west, north, south exposure). How much light did the area get? Morning? Afternoon? What is his average moisture per year? What is his average low during the winter? Did he winter mulch? Fuchsias like to have their foliage sprayed with water during the growing season (you don't always need to water the roots). What was his watering practices?
When I want to plant something I know nothing about, I gather as much information as I can, from as many sources as possible, and evaluate the results. That helps me make good decisions that benefits my plants.
He lives in Wichita, Kansas, in zone 6a and I live in Woodward, Oklahoma zone 6a. We get practically the same weather patterns. I think he gets a little more rain than I do, but most of the time whatever affects him affects me.
If your weather is similar, then it comes down to the plants chosen. What varities or species did he try? We need to determine which zone rated plants he used. If he used zone 6 rated, then we ask the next set of questions: the location, soil condition, planting habits, watering habits, fertilizing habits, pruning habits, winterizing methods. Fuchsias must have sharp drainage, otherwise they'll drown or rot if the rootball sits in too much water too long.
Invite Tropicman to our forum so he can help us determine the best cold hardy fuchsias to plant in your areas.
I really don't know which ones I tried,as they were only tag as hardy fuchsias.
Red in color,and if I remember they look much like a Iochroma flowers.
I planted them next to the house on the north side,morning sun,about a couple hours at the most,drainage was not that good until I put in a drain spout that went over to the sidewalk.
I had lot of tulips and jonquils planted there and they bloomed fine,so I thought the fuchsias would work as well.
This was many years ago,and the local nursery stop carry them,I'm assuming because people were having the same problem I was having.
I told bubba1 not to try just because I couldn't grow them,and she's never know if she could grow them until she at least give them a try.
You forgot to mention how they melted in the heat. You think they need full shade where we are?
Well it was not the sun that melted them,heat combined with the high humidity I think.
They were planted right across the sidewalk from the Nikko blue hydrangeas,which would get more sun.
I will probably try it. This will be our little experiment.
Hey, Tropicman! Glad you joined us.
A nursery tag listing a fuchsia as hardy isn't much help unless they list the zones. From everything I've read so far, the fuchsias I listed above are the only ones I could find that should be hardy in your zone 6 (and mine, too). I had to go to the DG Plant Files to see what a Lochroma looks like. Long tupes. The fuchsias with long tupes are in the Triphylla group, like the Gartenmeister Bonstedt I grow annually, and the Gartenmeister is only hardy to zone 8. The plant has to go inside my garage for the winter if I want to keep the plant. I grow the Gartenmeister in 14" or larger pots placed on the northern and eastern sides of my home, near the foundation. In previous years I didn't keep the plant, like I said, an annual, but this year I'm going to attempt to overwinter my Gartenmeister
in my garage under grow lights.
So it sounds like you tried a fuchsia that wasn't truly winter hardy for your area. If you try again, pick one from the list above.
There are fuchsias that can take more sun than most, such as the Triphyllas, but their roots need to be kept cool during the hottest months of the year. Otherwise, planting in dappled shade or heavier shade is more ideal, though growth might be affect if the shade is too dense. Fuchsias do need a certain amount of direct sun, like the morning sun (eastern and northern exposure at my house) and the setting sun (western exposure and northern exposure at my house), but western exposure only if the plants are shaded during the hottest part of the day. And during the hottest months, no matter what exposure the fuchsias have, it is very important the roots are kept cool and the foliage gets a spray of water daily, maybe more than once if the temps are in the 90s or more. Fuchsias lose a lot of moisture through their foliage. You don't necessarily need to water the roots to cool a plant down, spraying the foilage helps to cool the plant. Also, wherever you plant, the ground needs to be amended for sharp drainage. Fuchsia hate wet feet!
The hottest months where I live are July and August. During this time my Gartenmeister, and some of the trailing fuchsias I have in hanging baskets, take a time out due to the heat. They drop all their blooms but not the leaves. I continue to water but not as much at the roots; I water spray the foilage more. Then in late August the plants start to put out a new round of blooms and continues to bloom until the first frost.
If your fuchsia is not happy (too hot, too dry, too wet) the plant will drop leaves. In a way,
it melts. But high humidity isn't a problem. Fuchsias like the moisture in the air. And in St. Louis we have a lot of humidity during the summer. So far that hasn't been a problem with my Gartenmeisters or the trailing fuchsias I have planted all over the place.
In the spring I'm going to try several zone 6 hardy fuchsias in the ground, eastern exposure. I haven't decided exactly which fuchsias I'm going to plant, but my decision will be based on the plants height, 36" or less. F. Genii and F. Rufus for sure, but I'm still deciding about the others.
On the old zone maps St. Louis was listed as 5b, but on the new maps I've been changed to 6a, so I feel confident planting anything for zone 6, which I have done with a lot of other plants, and even tried some zone 7s that came back. Just remember with fuchsias the plant will die back to the ground in our zone, and new growth will emerge from the 5" part of the stem you buried below ground last spring that put out underground stems.
This message was edited Oct 17, 2009 3:03 PM
I'll check your plant listings,and might consider trying again.
Yes that is the one,and one that looked to be a little more reder as well.
There's a lot of Triphylla varities, colors from peachy to reds, and none are cold hardy in our zone, they are all tropical. I love them. My hummers love them. So I pot plant them each year, but they are annuals for us that have to be overwintered inside.
Since I have fallen in love with Billie Green, which is one of the Trihpylla varieties, it is one of those that I am going to try and grow indoors this winter in a sunny southern facing window. It doesn't get as cold here as where you live. But I do fear losing some of my varieties to a sudden freeze. I am going to choose little ones of as many varieties as I can, so we can see how they all do.
One of the factors affecting a fuchsias ability to recover from freezing temps, it that they all have such different growth rates. The faster growing ones seem to be able to recover better.
I have witnessed Gartenmeister frozen to ground level and apparently gone, burst back up from underneath the ground and then grow like crazy. A friend of mine lives in a zone where it snows and he was certain his was gone, until I showed him the new little shoots poking out of the leaf litter that protected the base core of the plant during the winter.
I like the colors on Billie Green, not quite so orange.
There is a very high risk of losing a Gartenmeister in any zone colder than zone 8. When the temps fall to 32 degrees F, and lower, everything above the ground will die back to the base. There are a lot of zones that get snow, (snow is an insulation and can keep the ground-buried rootball warm), but its the very cold temps in the twenties, teens, single digits and below zero that penetrates inches into the ground that kills the rootballs of plants, and will most likely kill fuchsias not cold hardy for zones 6, 5, or 4. That's why anyone living in zones 6, 5, or 4 should plant cold hardy fuchsias in the spring, not in the fall. In the spring the plant has a very long growing season and can establish a very large root base to help it survive a certain amount of the ground freezing. And don't forget to winter mulch that cold hardy fuchsia to give it more insulation from the cold.
PC: Where does your friend live? It's always nice to know what conditions a certain area experiences and what survives.
It is unusual for the ground to freeze here (near Seattle), and we do not get enough snow to provide an insulatory layer. So, my question is in regards to mulching. Is there any information as to how large (width & heighth) of an area to create for mulching? In other words, if i made a circle of chicken wire that was 1' tall & 18" wide, filled with mulch & leaves, would this provide adequate insulation for the root system? What if it was wrapped around & topped with bubble wrap? Probably sounds ridiculous, but i am trying to figure out a way to do the tender varities, and thought this might work for hardies in the cooler zones as well.
Gartenmeister - has died every winter for me, except one. Same siting - typical weather (down to 25° or so). Why one year worked is beyond me...
I think it was 2 years ago I overwintered in my basement a couple trailing fuchsias and some other annuals I can't remember now. My indoor gardening station in my basement is a corner near the furnance and hot water heater. Toasty warm. The problem I had was when early spring started outside, aphids started showing up inside. Apparently they had hitched a ride inside the house in the soil in the pots and my toasty corner was a perfect breeding atmosphere. Last year I brought 2 annuals inside, (not fuchsias), and to avoid bringing in pests, I cut the plants back to about 6", removed them from their pots and totally rinsed the soil off the roots and sprayed down the entire plant to insure a No Pest Zone. I had another pot ready to replant in, the new pot scrubbed clean with fresh potting mix inside, and the process went so quickly, the plant didn't show any signs of stress. They overwintered in the toasty corner downstairs and I never saw a bug.
This year I am going to overwinter Fuchsias and other plants in the garage. The temps get to the mid 30s in my garage, but the plants will get a certain amount of heat from the grow lights they will be under, so I think the lowest temps the plants will experience will be in the low 40s. When that cool, I don't think pests will be a problem, but I'm still going to trim back and repot into fresh soil and spray the plants to loosen anything hiding in the foilage.
That said, under normal growing conditions, fuchsias do have pest enemies. Slugs and snail do not like fuchsia leaves. That's a plus. However, aphids, red spider mites, whitefly, fuchsia gall mite, vine weevil, tortrix moth, and elephant hawk moth can be a problem. Red spider mites like hot, dry conditons, which fuchsias don't, but sometimes plant and pest experience the same conditions and you get an infestation. If it occurs outside, the more cool shade the plant is in, the better, and the more humidity you provide around the plant, the better. You can use insecticides to control pests. Because I plant hummingbird friendly plants, I don't use any insecticides, but, so far, I haven't had any pest problems on any of the fuchsias I grow.
Katye: When I winterize my hardy fuchsias next year I plan on using something like chicken wire. My fencing is 14" high. What I plan on doing is encircling the plant with the fencing, 18" diameter, 24" diameter, depending on how much room I have to work with around the plant, filling the space with leaves, compost, mulch... Then I was going to either bend the top of the fencing over to keep the leaves in, or attach a smaller piece of wire fencing to the top to keep my mulch from blowing away. I wouldn't put bubble wrap over the top because you do want rain to penetrate through the mulch to the ground, because the plants still need moisture through the cold months. You could erect your wire circle, add a layer of bubble wrap inside (vertically against the chicken wire, creating an outer barrier to the cold), then fill the inside with your leaves, mulch...
I have several perennials I've successfully overwintered in XL fiberglass pots for several years, when my local nurseries told me I couldn't. I lined the inside of the pots with bubble wrap, 2 layers, the bubbles facing each other creating an insulating air pocket, I put a piece of window screen over the drainhole (vinyl doesn't rust), added a layer of rocks in the bottom of the pot for weight and drainage, and filled with a blended potting mix for perennials. Some I've removed, trimmed the roots and repotted in late spring. Some I haven't needed to because the pots they are in are huge! But I haven't lost any. All the pots sit away from the house, so when it rains they get moisture. I only water those pots when the dry spell between rain storms is a little too long, and in late November, when I turn off the outside faucets, I let Mother Nature handle the watering chore until the following year.
HG, wow, thanks for all the info. I too love the hummers and try to make my yard "bird friendly". I wintered over the Gartenmeister last winter. It did fine, but did take a long time to start blooming-really until late summer but has bloomed very well since then. I also cut back the G. fuchsia in the spring when I brought it from the basement. I rooted the tips and they grew well. Perhaps that is why it took so long before it started blooming? I have my G. f. in a hanging pot, but this spring I am going to put this flower in a standing pot as this plant does not trail. I noticed that my hummers would some times pass the G.f. by as if the tubular flowers were just too deep. I guess I had lazy hummers.
I surely intend to order some fuchsias that are winter hardy next spring. Do you know of a favorite catalog or more importantly, one that sells the hardy fuchsias? I will have to really think about where these plants would be happiest in my yard. I am thinking full, bright shade--but that area has lousy drainage.
Thanks for sharing all of your research. It saves the rest of us a lot of time.
One more thing, when you say "prune hard" in spring. Do you mean 2",4", 12" for the ground?? This would be the "new" green stems?
Hey, birder17. Since this is my first year trying to overwinter Gartenmeister, it will be an experiment. Check this thread out in case you missed a discussion we had about overwintering Fuchsia Gartenmeister Bonstedt and taking cuttings.
I'm not going to overwinter my Gartenmeister in bloom, but in green leaf. I'll prune back when I bring the plants inside the garage for the winter. I'm thinking about pruning 1/3 to 1/2. I have 4 Gartenmeister plants, the tallest 3' and the others about 2'-2 1/2', so they will need to be pruned because of their size. When new growth starts to emerge late winter, early spring next year, I'm going to fertlize with a product that has a high nitrogen number to promote foilage. Off this new foilage I'm going to take cuttings. I decided to wait until next spring to take cuttings because that is supposed to be the prime time. Then when the plant looks good foilage wise, I'll start fertilizing with a product that has a low nitrogen number and a high potassium/potash number to promote blooming. I'm hoping I'll have blooms in May. We'll see.
My hummers love the Gartenmeister, but I have been learning about nectar and blooms, and sometimes blooms on a plant will not open invitingly for hummers because there isn't any nectar present. Apparently, nectar production, or lack of, promotes a response in the openness of the blooms; i.e., closed, half-open, widely open. And hummers know the signals and don't waste their time probing flowers with the "No Nectar Today" sign hanging out. And that sign could be triggered by temperature, less nectar production when the weather is cold, declining growth. Right now my Gartenmeisters are still in bloom, but I've noticed a lot of the blooms are tightly closed.
My favorite fuchsia mail order online retailer is The Earthworks Fuchsias: http://www.fuchsias.net/
They just reopened for a period of time and are taking fall mail orders. If you buy from them in the spring, place your order early (they open for mail order in March but won't ship to cold regions until late April), because they will sell out of a lot of plants. And they do have many of the zone 6 (possibly zone 4 or 5) plants I've listed. If I could buy my plants locally, I would, but all I can usually find is the Gartenmeister, Angels Earring, and a few other annual fuchsias I'm not interested in.
Spring Emergence: When green shoots appear at the base of hardy fuchsias, prune back the plant hard
Prune all the dead wood to just above the new green shoots/stems. Those new green stems are your emerging plant and you want to encourage growth by getting rid of winter kill. Use the same fertilizing system as I mentioned above; nitrogen to encourage foilage, potassium for blooms, phosphorus for roots.
Thanks for the catalog info. There's some really good posts on F. cuttings. So interesting. So, if my G. F. wasn't giving nectar, I am thinking it needed Potassium. Do you give this to the plant in a liquid form?
I brought my Gartenmeister in last year when it was going to be too cold outside for it to stay out. I watered it very little--maybe once a month. It did just fine. My basement is underground with a big garage door and a small garage door. So the temps stay pretty warm: maybe 50's for the most part. I had the G. under fluorescent lights. It was about 2 feet tall. I took cuttings in the Spring, April probably. I used a mix of perlite, sand, and potting soil and rooting hormone. I left them in my garage/basement under the lights. They rooted very nicely.
What have you decided to do with your Gartenmeisters? If it were me, I would leave them alone and root them in the Spring. To me, that's a sure thing and it's less to worry about this winter. But, I am little bit of a scaredy cat!!
I would like to know how you arranged your Gartenmeisters in your yard?? I haven't figured out what I am going to do with mine next summer as I had it in a hanging pot--and it shouldn't be in a h. pot. This will be the third winter for my Gartenmeister.
I pot plant my Gartenmeisters first of May in 14" to 18" containers, terracotta and fiberglass. I put a cut piece of vinyl screen (window screen) over the drain hole. I use Miracle Gro Potting Mix and add traction sand or pea gravel or rice hulls or pumice (or a combination of everything) to give the mix sharper drainage so the roots don't stay too wet. I also add a slow release fertilizer to the mix. Then in June I start with the water soluable fertilizer every 2 weeks, 15-15-15 at first then switching to Miracle Grow Bloom Booster. I recently read to switch the fertilizers every time you use them. I may try that next year, but so far my plants like my routine. I have 2 potted on the east side, and 2 potted on the west side, both sitting near the foundation with ground planted plants around and in front of the potted Gartenmeisters. Just for fun I took some cuttings November 1st. I used seed starter with a heavy dose of perlite mixed in. They are under lights in my basement and look okay. We'll see. My fuchsias are still blooming so they are all still outside as long as we don't have a freeze warning. Eventually the Gartenmeisters will be taken inside the garage, trimmed down (roots and stems) and repotted (smaller size), and put under funnel shop lights with grow light bulbs (not fluorescent). In the spring (if they survive) I plan on taking cuttings. But if nothing lives till spring, I can find Gartenmeisters at one of my favorite nurseries locally.
I live up north Michigan zone 5a is there any types of fuchias that I can grow here year round?
I have been buying fuchia baskets for years now in the spring. I bought one 20 years ago to get some hummingbirds to come to my yard. It worked. Hubby used to buy me one or two for Mothers Day.
I have become a pro with keeping them lovley all season long. I cut off the seeds as the flowers drop and in the summer I give them a shot of epsome salt one tablespoon to a gallon of water to force the blooms for the rest of the season. Works great, old grower friend told me this hint years ago.
But I would love to get some perennial ones if at all possible.
They are one of my very favorite flowers the hummers agree!
Thanks for your help
Hi Amos, I've been growing a few varieties indoors in a sunny southern window this winter just too see for myself that this is possible. And they are all doing so well that I have had to transplant them into larger pots twice!! So if you have a sunny window, you know you could at least winter over one or two indoors. I am going to keep a few in this window as indoor blooming houseplants.
Thanks again HG for all your research. After my recent fuschia 'disaster' (and I am leaving them all in their pots in the GH and hoping they are dormant....) I am copying your list, and your book resource list.
FYI, I am in rural area w/ bookmobile service, and tend to forget to return library books on the correct day and time. I have found that by researching prices on Amazon and EBay, I have been able to pick up some wonderful gardening reference books, like the American Hort. Plant Encycl. , list price 100$+ for 1.01 plus 3.99 shipping from a Goodwill store in Minnesota, that's right, total $5.
I've found lots of other obscure gardening books this way also-just look in Amazon's used copies box. Most are old library books! Heading off to look for those fuschia references!
hummer - Thanks for such a great list! I just stumbled across it.
Been here in the background. Looks like some of my babies made it! At least a big of green at the base........... However wanted to thank HG again for posting list, as I am dreaming spring, and getting ready to make my wish list.............. :)
There are also links in the sticky at the beginning of the forum, to websites like the Northwest Fuchsia Society who have a great list of their winter tested hardy fuchsias. Along with photos and other details. Plus planting instructions. There are far more winter hardy fuchsias than most people realize!
Thank you so much hummer_girl for all this info! I've ordered (I hope) plants from the company you suggested.
To hummer_girl and everyone else who posted: thanks for a great thread filled with useful information! I've never grown a fuchsia but am looking forward to trying a few of the hardy varieties next spring.