Lady's teardropsBotanical name: FuchsiaPronunciation...

PLANT NOTEBOOK

December 14, 1991|By Amalie Adler Ascher

Lady's teardrops

Botanical name: Fuchsia

Pronunciation: FEW-shiah

Family : Oenotheraceae (Evening Primrose)

Origin: Chile, Peru

Class: Shrub

Display period: Summer

Height: 2 feet

Environment: Partial shade

The fuchsia is an odd sort of plant, not only for its unconventional flowers, but also for the confusion it might cause in categorizing it. It's most commonly found as a summertime hanging basket, thus leading to the assumption that the plant is an annual. And indeed, most species must be wintered in a greenhouse to survive.

Technically, though, the fuchsia is a shrub. In their native habitats, some species reach 20 feet or more. And although some types are classed as relatively hardy, a severe winter would kill growth above the ground. However, the roots might survive if they were protected. Under that scenario, the fuchsia might be perceived as a perennial.

Island Sunset is a ravishing new entry on the market. It bears characteristic red and purple flowers, but in a departure from the usual plain green leaves, the trailing branches sport wonderful pink variegated foliage. The stems on new shoots are red.

Because the new plant's parentage and therefore its species are unknown, it has been designated simply "Fuchsia Hybrid," says Roger A. Duer, public relations director of Monrovia Nursery Company, a wholesale grower in Azusa, California and Dayton, Oregon. Monrovia holds the U.S. patent on Island Sunset and is its only American wholesale source.

Island Sunset was discovered in 1984 in a garden in British Columbia. Monrovia introduced it in 1988. Originally thought to be hardy in Oregon, the plant failed the test when temperatures dropped one winter into the single digit category.

Hoping to bring my Island Sunset in a 12-inch pot on my terrace through the winter, I mulched it, pushed it against a wall and surrounded it with buckets of potting soil.

A wonderful new all-inclusive guide is "Fuchsias," by Gerda Manthey. From Timber Press, 9999 S.W. Wilshire, Portland, Ore. 97225; it costs $41.95 plus $3.75 postage.

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