If you want enchanting flowering plants for shade, rely on the fuchsias. Whether in individual pots, window boxes, or hanging baskets, lady's ear drops, as fuchsias are sometimes called, are gorgeous plants noted for their grace and splendor. There are hundreds of varieties, single and double, in rose, purple, and white shades, and in both upright and hanging types. Fuchsias are particularly popular in California, where the summers are cool and the winters sufficiently moderate; but they make handsome container plants in other climates too.
Except for the hanging types, fuchsias are by nature upright shrubby growers, fine as specimen plants for containers. Under proper conditions, some attain considerable size. The dark purple-and-red Reiter's Giant grows to five feet or more, and the single red Mephisto is even taller. Alice Hoffman, a semi-double white and pink, is a dwarf, to two feet, as is the three-foot Camellia, a double white and red.
Tree, or standard, fuchsias are always greatly admired. These are simply the usual fuchsias trained to tree form. With patience, you can develop your own, starting with a four- to five-inch cutting kept tied to a strong four- to five-foot stake. At the desired height of two, three, or four feet, the single stalk can be pinched back and allowed to branch. In the meantime, do not remove all leaves from the stem, because they are needed to manufacture food.
Good varieties to train to tree form include the purple-and-red Muriel, the red-and-white Storm King, the double lavender-and-red Gypsy Queen, and the all-white Flying Cloud. Tree fuchsias lend themselves to the simplicity of modern architecture; the large specimens are always attractive on the terraces and patios of contemporary ranch houses. On the other hand, they are also handsome with houses and gardens of traditional design.
For Hanging Baskets
Many gardeners believe that the best way to appreciate fuchsias is in hanging baskets, because their exquisite blooms are seen at or above eye level. They are most decorative for patios, entrances, lathhouses, and on walls and tree trunks. They can be suspended in redwood slat boxes
and in glazed or plastic containers. In moss-lined wire baskets, they require more water because the roots dry out more quickly.
For basket planting, you will like the double magenta-and-carmine Anna, the single red-and-white Claret Cup, and also the semi-double purple-and-red Muriel, mentioned for tree-training. Among the most brilliant varieties are the double, bright red Marinka; the nearly orange Aurora Superba; the carmine-rose and orange-red San Francisco; and the rose-purple-and-pink Amapola. It is more effective to grow but one variety in a container.