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What Is a California Fuchsia?

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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2018
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California fuchsia is a wildflower native to the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. A popular addition to the native plant garden, California fuchsia grows in various locales, including rocky areas, mountainous regions, and deserts. It is extremely drought tolerant and can accommodate different soils as long as there is good drainage. Too much water will cause the roots to rot.

A variety of cultivated types are available in different sizes and with differing growth habits. Some cultivars are prostrate plants with wide spreads that only reach a height of 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 centimeters), while the taller varieties can attain heights at maturity up to 36 inches (91 centimeters). The native California fuchsia, on the other hand, is an upright shrub that averages 12 to 24 inches in height, with a spread up to 4 feet (1.2 meters). Its leaves are a silvery green that contrasts beautifully with other plants in a sunny garden.

The showy flowers are deep orange to red and are very attractive to hummingbirds. This has earned the plant the nicknames hummingbird flower and hummingbird fuchsia. The flowers have a flared opening with a long tube that is just the right size to accommodate a hummingbird’s long beak and tongue as it sips the nectar. California fuchsia depends on hummingbirds for pollination, and it is a popular plant in the gardens of bird lovers.

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This type of fuchsia was formerly known by the scientific name Zauschneria before being reclassified as Epilobium. Some sources still refer to it by its former scientific name. All varieties of California fuchsia bloom in the summer, but some bloom during the early summer while others blossom later and continue producing flowers into fall.

California fuchsia is a perennial. Some varieties propagate by seeds, and others spread by rhizomes that run under the ground. Gardeners can also propagate them by division and by taking cuttings which root easily.

The upright stems of California fuchsia are very delicate and break easily. When planting one, the gardener must take care not to damage the brittle stem. This plant should be located away from high-traffic areas to protect it from damage. It requires full sun to thrive.

Sometimes the low-growing, matting cultivars are used for erosion control. California fuchsia is popular in sunny gardens with low rainfall and good drainage because of its striking flowers and low maintenance requirements. Under the right conditions, the plant will only need an occasional pruning and can thrive on its own.

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