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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
PERUVIAN BERRYBUSH, VINE FUCHSIA
syn. F. boliviana, F. corymbosa
Pronounced: FEWK-see-ah (Most people pronounce it FEW-shah.) kor-im-bih-FLOOR-uh
Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Shrub or small tree.
Sunset zones: 17, 22-24.
USDA zones: 10; possibly hardy in zone 9.
Height: 12 feet (4 m).
Width: 3-4 feet (1-1.2 m).
Summer until first frost.
Terminal racemes of red, tubular flowers with reflexed red sepals and scarlet petals followed by 1-inch long pinkish-red edible, tasty fruit. The flowers are hermaphrodite, with both male and female organs.
Up to 8-inch long, elliptic, soft hairy leaves.
Fertile, moist, well-drained soil.
Fuchsias are heavy feeders, thus monthly applications of a complete organic fertilizer, from spring through July, is called for when growing in the ground. In containers, you may want to use a slow release fertilizer. If leaves turn yellow, this may be a sign of the plant needing more nitrogen. Be careful not to over feed as this could burn the plants in containers when using a chemical fertilizer.
Sow seed as soon as ripe and germinate at 65-75°F (18-23°C); germination will occur in approximately 6 weeks. Pot up individual seedlings and grow on in a warm greenhouse over winter. | Take cuttings throughout the growing season.
Can be pruned hard.
Pests and Diseases:
Whitefly, aphids, scale, mealy bugs and spider mites may be problems for this fuchsia. Resistant to fuchsia gall mites, a problem in California, but not in the Pacific Northwest.
Rainy Side Notes
Fuchsia, named after Leonhart Fuchs (1501-66), a German herbalist and physician, is properly pronounced—FEWK-see-ah (Most people pronounce it FEW-shah.). However, English-speaking people pronounce it FEW-shah. If you pronounce it the correct way, you will probably get either a blank stare as they wonder what you are talking about, or a sideways glance as they think how weird you are to pronounce it so funny. Its epithet—corymbiflora— is a combination of two words, corymb from the Latin corymbus, meaning a bunch of flowers and flora, meaning flowers. In Roman mythology, Flora was the goddess of flowers.
I ordered this fuchsia in 1998 and received it tagged as Fuchsia excorticata. I was not familiar with the species but was intrigued enough by the description to want to try it in my garden. I planted it out, anticipating a tall fuchsia with peeling bark. The next two winters killed it back to the ground, but it came back each spring and grew quite fast to about four feet tall. Someone pointed out to me that it was not F. excorticata and thought instead that it was a tender South American plant. I dug it up and imprisoned it in a container, not wanting to lose the fuchsia with the beautiful trailing red flowers. I wintered it over in the greenhouse from then on. Eventually I identified it with its old name, F. boliviana, a tender tall shrub to small tree from the western part of South America. It was fortunate that its first planting in the garden was a protected enough place for it to survive. Additionally two consecutive mild winters probably helped.
Even with the mistaken identity, this handsome fuchsia became a lovely addition to my garden as a container plant. The bright red, tubular flowers have an exotic, tropical look.
In its native haunts, the fuchsia can grow as high as twelve to fifteen feet under a cool canopy of a maritime forest, with weather consisting of constant cloud cover and no freezes.
The plant flowers constantly from July well into fall, sometimes longer in the greenhouse.
Peeling bark and eight-inch long, soft hairy leaves adorn this frost tender shrub. The local hummingbirds pollinate racemes of the elegant, long tubular, bright red flowers that ensure a crop of large, tasty, dark purple fruit having a mild flavor reminiscent of ripe figs. In South America you can buy the fruits in the market place. This fuchsia prefers cooler climates and languishes in heat. In South America F. corymbiflora grows along stream banks and other moist conditions, in high elevations where a normal cloud cover keeps the climate cool.
Photographed in author's garden.
Perennials indexed by botanical names. Click on corresponding letter below.