With its long narrow trumpet-like bloom, the California fuchsia is a perfect match for humming birds, serving as one of the principal sources of nectar for these pollinators in summer months. This drought-tolerant bloom (genus Epilobium) extends the vibrant colors of summer into late fall. Formerly belonging to the Zauschneria genus, this late blooming perennial comes in rich hues of red and orange. It was reclassified from Zauschneria to Epilobium to be included with other herbaceous and willow plants that share several biological characteristics. Many plant enthusiasts will still refer to them as Zaucschneria.
The most popular species in California, E. Canum, is found throughout the state along coastal and central state regions, typically in drier habitats like chaparral. This colorful native can enhance a garden in diverse ways, such as a high ground cover, a neat bush or even as a potted accent. However they can easily grow over 18 inches and do require strict pruning after plants have finished flowering. Light pinching and pruning on a regular basis also promote rapid growth.
The California fuchsia thrives in the sun, and as most native species, it can survive our arid region on normal rainfall. They prefer to be grown in well-drained soils and are hardy enough to thrive in heavy soils, as long as they’re not overly wet.
Prime planting season for most California natives is during the months of October through February. The fall and winter months provide optimal conditions for seeds and bulbs to germinate and establish healthy roots and basal leaves. After fall and winter rains, most plants will bloom from early spring to late summer. Get more information on planting during the fall from the UC Master Gardners Santa Clara County Chapter.