Fuchsia: A hardy plant with a delicate look

sue.kidd@thenewstribune.comApril 16, 2014 

fuschia 4

Fuchsia blossom, 'Golden Gate' variety. Credit: Salli Dahl / The Northwest Fuchsia Society

SALLI DAHL — The Northwest Fuchsia Society

That brutal ice storm in January 2012 convinced Nancy White that fuchsias are tougher than they look.

The Lakewood resident, and president of the Tahoma Fuchsia Society, was overwintering her fuchsias on her deck when the ice struck, bringing havoc (and bitter tears of resentment) to countless South Sound gardeners.

White wasn’t sure all of her fuchsias would survive. The thaw came, then warm weather and then the blooms returned. All but one potted fuchsia survived the freeze, the only loser was a fuchsia in a pot that upended.

Not bad for such a delicate-looking flower.

If you’ve always thought of trailing fuchsias as annuals, you might be surprised to learn that they can survive the winter. Fuchsias are hardier than you think.

In fact, there’s even a group of fuchsias called hardy fuchsias, and they’re among White’s favorites. They are different from the trailing fuchsia usually grown in baskets. Hardy fuchsias are upright plants, and the tough kids on the fuchsia block, making them ideal for beginners.

If you’ve always wanted to grow fuchsias, here’s one way to start your collection.

On Saturday, the Tahoma Fuchsia Society will sell both hardy and trailing fuchsias in 4-inch pots for $4, White said. Garden members also will sell plants and starts from their personal gardens (get there early).

Afraid to tackle fuchsias? Don’t be, said White. Here’s her advice about her favorite flower:

* You have to take care of trailing fuchsias if you overwinter them, said White. “Even the trailing kind will return, but they can’t be considered true perennials. You have to think of them as more tender plants. If you’re not protecting or overwintering them and protecting them from freezing, or watering them once a month, you’ll lose them.”

She suggested keeping them on a deck in a safe place near the warmth of a house.

* “The hardy ones are true perennials, they’re so adaptable,” White said. She recommended looking at the ratings for hardiness. H1 is the most tender, H2 can be lost in adverse weather, and H3 is “as tough as nails,” she said.

* “We really want to let people know the varieties are not just red or purple. The color range is amazing.” White said fuchsias come in white, orange, peach and pink.

IF YOU GO

Tahoma Fuchsia Society Plant Sale

What: Fuchsia starts in 4-inch pots for sale, $4 each; plus garden stock from club members for sale at various prices.

When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Disabled American Veterans Hall parking lot, 1110 N. Stevens St., Tacoma

Contact: The club meets monthly in Lakewood. For details, call 253-359-1098.

Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270
sue.kidd@thenewstribune.com

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