The fuchsia that wouldn’t die

A column by Mike Lascelle who is nursery manager in Pitt Meadows and a gardening author

The fuchsia that wouldn’t die

Some things in life are just plain stubborn, like my dad, for instance.

When I was a kid, nothing would stop him from his ritual Saturday barbeque, not even driving rain and thunder.

I can remember one such stormy weekend when he couldn’t barbeque in the garage (my mom had hung laundry in there), so he used a little extra fire starter (this was the round barbeque and charcoal briquette era) to get it going in the rain, then brought it just inside the kitchen door to cook on. Everything was going fine until he added too much sauce and the chicken started to smoke, leaving sooty evidence on the ceiling that my mom didn’t overlook when she got back from shopping.

Similarly, there are a handful of equally stubborn fuchsia that absolutely refuse to die when winter appears. These are collectively known as hardy fuchsia. They vary somewhat in appearance, so you are bound to find one that suits your taste.

The hardiest of these (Zone 6) is a South American species, fuchsia magellanica, which grows as a 60- 90-centimetres high shrub here (taller in warmer climates) with slender crimson and purple flowers that the hummingbirds find irresistible. There are also several good cultivars of this species, including ‘Riccartonii’, ‘Aurea’ (shorter growing with bright gold foliage) and ‘Alba’ with very pale pink blossoms.

Other hardy fuchsia choices include ‘Santa Claus,’ which bears abundant red and white blooms on a compact shrub growing about 60 cm high. ‘Double Otto’ gives us those exotic flowers we are accustomed to, with large blooms of a deep cherry red and a ruffled purple corolla. ‘Brutus’ is an old cultivar (Lemoine 1897) and an AGM winner that bears cerise-red and dark rosy-purple blooms, while ‘Island Sunset’ looks great in a hanging basket with its variegated foliage and dangling rose-pink and purple flowers.

Now is the best time to plant hardy fuchsia, as they need a full growing season to settle in before their first frosts. Be sure to leave the dormant plants intact through winter (do not tidy them up or cut back in fall) and do your major pruning in spring, by trimming down to the new shoots emerging from the base of last year’s growth.

Container grown specimens should be overwintered in a cool shed or garage with minimal watering, and pruned the same in spring.

Many people mound the crowns of their hardy fuchsia in fall with bark mulch for a little extra winter insulation.

Fertilize in mid-spring with a 14-14-14 slow-release for containerized specimens and something with a 6-8-6 ratio in early spring and again in June for those planted in the ground.

Hardy fuchsias bloom all summer, so for more flowers you can also fertilize the latter monthly. Pinch the new growth anytime from spring through to early summer in order to produce more dense plants and a better flower display. When planting, use a little bone meal in the hole and place them where they will receive part to full sun (hardy fuchsia don’t like deep shade).

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author. Email him at


You can find a number of pictures and descriptions of both hardy and tender fuchsia on my plant selection site, which has reached a bit of a milestone. It now holds more than 1,000 entries for you to browse through – so if you are having a hard time finding the right plant for the right place, why not pay it a visit. I’ve also uploaded a new story, Plants like People, to my garden blog.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker at his former law office. (News files)
UPDATE: Becker suspended from practising law for 14 months

Statement from former Pitt Meadows Mayor says anxiety and depression played role

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: Pointing out an issue is not ‘shaming,’ reader argues

Duncan has been as strong advocate for the community, and hopefully can continue in that role

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: Hair salon discriminates based on gender

Maple Ridge reader wonders if other women share her feelings on the matter

Developers are moving mountains to create a new heli park at Pitt Meadows Airport (Neil Corbett/The News)
New infrastructure at Pitt Meadows Airport

Rebuilt terminal building one of many projects at YPK

Pitt Meadows resident Bruno James de Faria shared a picture of Pitt River Bridge taken from the West Coast Express. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Commute flies by – literally and figuratively

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism widespread

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Most Read