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Fuchsia: Hybrids

Modern name

Fuchsia Hybrids

The genus Fuchsia is mainly represented in gardens by hybrids deriving from F. magellanica, F. coccinea, and various species of Central America. Many of these are hardy in their wood in milder parts. In colder, more northerly, and inland localities, the hardier sorts may still be grown in the open air, although they can scarcely be termed shrubs, seeing that most of them are killed to the ground almost invariably. Yet even at Kew, groups of several sorts of these hybrids make very pleasing displays of colour from July onwards. Shoots spring up freely from the old stools, continuing to flower as they lengthen until the frosts come. The flower-buds add much to the beauty of the plants. These hybrids need a rich, deep soil, and plenty of moisture during the growing season. All grow well on chalky soils.

The following selection of the hardier hybrids could have been greatly extended, had space permitted. It will at least serve to emphasise that this genus contains many valuable ornamental plants which are not nearly enough used as permanent features in gardens. For further details see the chapter on fuchsia hedges in the book by S. J. Wilson referred to on page 236. For some small-flowered hybrids see F. × bacillaris on page 243.

‘Alice Hoffman’. – Leaves dark mat-green, purple-tinged when young, 34 to 1 in. long, c. 12 in. wide. Tube 516 in. long. Sepals pinkish scarlet, 34 in. long. Corolla white, 58 in. long. Dwarf.

‘Caledonia’. – Leaves bright green, corrugated. Tube and sepals salmon pink; tube 1 in. or slightly more long; sepals narrow, tapered, forward-pointing, about 1 in. long. Petals pale magenta.

‘Chillerton Beauty’. – Leaves ovate, acute, rather thick, pale sea-green in colour; petiole purplish. Tube about 58 in. long. Sepals c. 114 in. long, pale rose flushed deeper rose. Corolla violet-purple. A beautifully soft-coloured variety of uncertain origin. It is of spreading habit and eventually 4 ft high in milder parts.

‘Corallina’. – Stems arching to procumbent, reddish when young. Leaves in pairs, threes or fours, mostly ovate or oblong-ovate, up to 3 in. long, folded upwards along the purplish midrib; undersides tinged purple, especially on the veins. Tube and sepals scarlet; tube c. 58 in. long; sepals 114 in. or slightly more long, 38 in. wide, acuminate, forward pointing. Petals reddish purple, c. 34 in. long. This famous fuchsia, one of the oldest of those now cultivated, was raised by Lucombe and Pince around 1844. It was not at that time highly regarded by fuchsia fanciers, the sepals not being reflexed as fashion then demanded, and the petals too infused with red, but it was found to be a vigorous climber and at one time was commonly grown against house-walls on the coasts of the south-western counties and in North Wales, where it sometimes developed a stout trunk and attained eave-height. In colder parts it is herbaceous but very effective in late summer with its brilliant flowers, graceful habit, and bronzy green leaves.

The parentage of ‘Corallina’ is not known. Porcher suggested it was not a hybrid but a form merely of the Brazilian F. radicans (F. regia var. integrifolia) and although this assertion is incorrect it is not unlikely that ‘Corallina’ is a hybrid from this variety or from some other Brazilian relative of F. magellanica.

‘Corallina’ is sometimes wrongly called F. ‘Exoniensis’ or F. × exoniensis. The source of this error is an article by W. B. Hemsley in Gard. Chron. (Nov. 3, 1883), p. 560, in which a specimen of ‘Corallina’ received from R. I. Lynch, Curator of the University Botanic Garden, Cambridge, is discussed under the name F. exoniensis, and is figured as such on p. 565 of the same issue. In the interesting correspondence that followed, Hemsley’s error was pointed out by several gardeners, and in a letter on p. 728 he retracted. The true ‘Exoniensis’, raised by Lucombe and Pince in 1841, is probably no longer in cultivation. It had the sepals fairly strongly reflexed and petals of a much bluer shade of purple.

‘Dr Foster’. – Leaves ovate to broadly so; stems and petioles reddish. Tube and sepals scarlet; tube stout, 12 in. long, 38 in. wide; sepals c. 112 in. long, almost 34 in. wide, spreading, slightly reflexed at tips. Corolla violet-mauve, 138 in. long, 1 in. wide. The flowers are remarkably large for a hardy fuchsia. Of erect habit.

‘Globosa’. – A dwarf, spreading shrub with glabrous, strongly toothed leaves 1 to 112 in. long, rounded or subcordate at the base. Flower-buds globular; half-expanded flowers balloon-shaped owing to the cohering tips of the sepals. Tube and sepals crimson, the former very short (c. 316 in. long) and subglobose. Petals violet, about half as long as sepals. Raised by Bunney of Stratford before 1832. It is said to have been a seedling of F. magellanica var. conica but is certainly a hybrid, the other parent being in all probability the Brazilian F. coccinea, the influence of which is strongly suggested by the very short tube. If so, it was the first cross between F. magellanica and F. coccinea to be named and validly described (by Lindley in Bot. Reg., under t. 1556). It was much used by the early breeders and a probable parent of ‘Riccartonii’. Whether the true ‘Globosa’ is still in cultivation cannot be said.

‘Howlett’s Hardy’. – Of low, spreading habit. Tube and sepals soft-scarlet; tube 12 in. long; sepals 114 to 134 in. long, spreading at first, eventually strongly reflexed. Corolla violet-blue and about half as long as the sepals, but much enlarging as the flower ages and becoming magenta-pink.

‘Lena’. – Of low, rather lax habit. Tube and sepals white tinged with pink; tube 58 in. long; sepals very fleshy, green-tipped, spreading, 1 in. or slightly more long. Corolla semi-double, mauve with white flares at the base, about 1 in. long and wide. Said to be very hardy.

‘Madame Cornelissen’. – A strong-growing variety up to 3 ft high, or more in mild gardens. Leaves dark green, long-tapered at the apex to an acute point. Tube and sepals soft scarlet; tube 38 in. long; sepals lanceolate, long-tapered, gracefully reflexed, 112 in. long, thick. Corolla with a few extra, reduced petals, white. The flowers of this variety are beautifully formed and set off by the unusually elegant foliage.

‘Margaret’. – A very vigorous freely branching variety of vase-shaped habit, eventually 4 or 5 ft high. Leaves light green. Tube and sepals scarlet; tube 14 in. long; sepals 112 in. long, soon strongly reflexed. Corolla semi-double, petals bluish violet with white flares at the base, spreading. A very showy fuchsia raised by the late W. P. Wood from ‘Heritage’ crossed with the white-flowered form of F. magellanica.

‘Mrs Popple’. – A vigorous variety eventually 4 ft high and wide, very bushy. Leaves mostly ovate, folded upward along the midrib as in ‘Corallina’. Tube and sepals soft crimson-scarlet; tube about 12 in. long; sepals 1 in. long, gracefully recurved towards the apex. Corolla violet-blue, ageing to crimson-purple. Free-flowering and one of the best of the hardier sorts. It shows the influence of ‘Corallina’, especially in its foliage. A.M. 1934.

‘Mrs W. P. Wood’. – This fuchsia resembles the white-flowered form of F. magellanica but the flowers are pinker, larger and with a shorter, wider tube. It is less hardy. A seedling of ‘Margaret’, selfed, and like the parent (q.v.) raised by W. P. Wood.

‘Phyllis’. – Said to be hardy and vigorous. Tube stout, 58 in. long, 38 in. wide. Sepals pale pinkish scarlet, about 1 in. long. Corolla semi-double, slightly deeper coloured than the sepals.

‘Pixie’. – Of upright, bushy habit when established. Leaves lanceolate, light green, with impressed veins. Tube and sepals pinkish scarlet. Corolla lavender, with red veins. A sport of ‘Graf Witte’ raised by Messrs Russell.

‘Pumila’. – A true dwarf, 6 to 9 in. high and eventually 18 in. across. Leaves lanceolate, mostly about 14 in. wide and under 1 in. long. Tube and sepals glossy crimson-scarlet; tube very short, 18 to 316 in. long; sepals about 12 in. long. Corolla about three-quarters as long as the sepals, deep violet-blue. An old variety, sometimes called ‘Tom Thumb’ but quite distinct from the fuchsia for which ‘Tom Thumb’ is now the established name (q.v.). It is sometimes wrongly placed under F. magellanica, from which it differs in the very short tube.

‘Riccartonii’. – An almost hardy deciduous shrub 5 to 6 ft high and as much across, but larger in the mildest and rainiest parts of the country. Young stems and petioles reddish on the exposed side. Leaves opposite or in threes, lanceolate, acute, 1 to 134 in. long, 38 to 58 in. wide, dark, mat green above, edged with well-developed callous teeth; petiole 18 to 14 in. long. Flowers on slender glabrous pedicels 138 to 134 in. long. Tube and sepals scarlet; tube 14 in. or very slightly more long, broadest just below the midpoint and hence spindle-shaped; sepals broad-lanceolate to almost elliptic, short-acuminate, 34 to 78 in. long, 516 in. wide. Corolla violet, about 38 in. long.

The origin of ‘Riccartonii’ is not known for certain but it is believed to have been raised at Riccarton, Scotland, by Young, the gardener there, around 1830. As a greenhouse fuchsia it was soon superseded by more elaborate, larger-flowered confections, but by the end of the 1830s its hardiness had been discovered and from then on it must have become increasingly common in gardens as an open-ground plant (see Gard. Chron. 1841 and 1842 passim, and the interesting note in the volume for 1846, p. 579).

The oldest specimen in the Kew Herbarium was received from J. McNab of the Edinburgh Botanic Garden in August 1876. In his accompanying letter to Sir Joseph Hooker he wrote: ‘The enclosed specimens of Fuchsia Riccartonii were taken off plants which have been growing in a clump about 36 ft round, and which have been standing undisturbed these 22 or more years. The F. Riccartonii when grown on a wall and well manured has a much finer appearance. It certainly is the finest Fuchsia we have, and is much finer than the old F. discolor, which it resembles (except in its compact habit). The true F. discolor I have not seen for years.’

McNab’s reference to F. discolor is interesting, for there seems to have been a confusion at one time between this, the Port Famine fuchsia (see under F. magellanica), and F. ‘Riccartonii’. For example, Tillery wrote in 1871 (Florist and Pomologist, p. 218): ‘Some thirty-six years ago, I introduced the Fuchsia Riccartonii, then named the Port Famine Fuchsia, to the Isle of Aran.’ In fact, ‘Riccartonii’ is certainly of garden origin and quite distinct from the Port .Famine fuchsia or any other form of F. magellanica in the short tube of the flowers. The parentage of ‘Riccartonii’ is not known for certain, but it was said to be a seedling of ‘Globosa’ (q.v.) and this seems very likely.

‘Tom Thumb’. – Leaves medium green, ovate to lanceolate, mostly 34 to 118 in. long, slightly toothed. Tube and sepals carmine-pink; tube 14 to 38 in. long, broadest near the middle; sepals elliptic, spreading, about 78 in. long. Corolla soft violet-purple, slightly more than half as long as the sepals. A charming softly coloured fuchsia of dwarf compact habit, very free-flowering. The name ‘Tom Thumb’ has also been used for ‘Pumila’ (q.v.). A.M. 1938.

‘W. P. Wood’. – Leaves broad-ovate, strongly toothed, with a raised rim. Tube and sepals dark scarlet; tube stout, 12 in. long; sepals elliptic, about 1 in. long. Corolla reddish purple shading to scarlet at the base. Of erect, dwarf habit.



Other species in the genus