Fuchsias add a wonderful splash of pink and purple to the summer garden. Look around the borders of Seven Acres and you’ll spot a few hardy specimens, and in the Mixed Borders they have a small but important role in the high summer colour. This is where you’ll find 'Mrs Popple' AGM, 'Tom Thumb' AGM and 'Riccartonii' AGM, in the classic red and purple colours. On the fantastic new Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden 'Riccartonii' adds its deep but delicate flowers colouring into the mix.
Over in the Glasshouse we’ve a theatre full of fuchsias, on display for the first three weeks of August.
- Common name
- Fuchsia 'Riccartonii'
- Height & spread
- Up to 1.5–2.5m (5–8ft) tall x 1–1.5m (3–5ft) wide
- Semi-evergreen shrub
- Fertile, moist, well-drained soil
- Full sun or partial shade
- Hardy in the some areas, needing frost protection in others
This genus contains about 100 species, and more than 8,000 cultivars and hybrids, of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and a few perennials. They are from mountainous areas of Central and South America, and New Zealand with a single species in Tahiti.
In general Fuchsia flowers are usually tubular and pendent, sometimes likened to ballerinas wearing a tutu. They are often bicoloured, with a corolla of one hue and a tube and four sepals of another that form a cup or bell. They may be single, with four petals; semi-double, with five-seven petals; or fully double with eight or more petals. Fuchsias with very long-tubed single flowers are usually from the Triphylla Group. Fuchsia procumbens is unusual in that its flowers are erect rather than pendent.
Flower size can vary from 0.5cm (1/4in) to 6cm (21/4in) across the sepals. The leaves are frequently toothed, can be almost yellow to dark green or purple-backed, mostly deciduous with some evergreen.
Fuchsias are popular as garden plants as they can be trained as standards, fans, espaliers, etc, or left to grow as bushes in the border. Most are treated as half-hardy annuals in bedding schemes and hanging baskets, but they can be overwintered and some are naturally hardier. Fuchsia magellanica is the hardiest species, used extensively in the breeding of the modern hardy fuchsia.
Fuchsia is named for Leonhart Fuchs (1501 – 1566), a German physician and herbalist who, sadly, never saw a fuchsia.
'Riccartonii' is an extremely hardy, upright shrub bearing dark green leaves with a slight bronze sheen. Small, single flowers have scarlet tubes and sepals, and dark purple corollas. It is suitable for hedging in frost-free areas.
- When in growth water freely and feed with a balanced liquid fertiliser every 2-4 weeks depending on the soil conditions. Keep just moist in winter.
- Pinch prune young plants to encourage a bushy habit. In early spring remove frost damaged stems. Cut back healthy growth to the lowest buds.
- Fuchsias are susceptible to whitefly, vine weevil, capsid bugs, aphids, red spider mite, grey mould (Botrytis) and rust.
- Sow seed in trays at 15-24°C (59-75°F) in spring, though cultivars will vary from the parent.
- Root softwood cuttings of cultivars such as 'Riccartonii' in spring, or semi-ripe cuttings in late summer with bottom heat.
The RHS Woody Plant Committee awarded Fuchsia 'Riccartonii' an Award of Garden Merit and described it as an:
'Upright medium-sized deciduous shrub with small ovate leaves. Flowers small, with crimson tube and sepals, petals violet-purple.'