Fuchsia bolivianaSelecting plants for shaded areas in the garden can seem like daunting prospect for the beginner gardener. There are many to select from and finding them is as easy as going to your local nursery and asking for some options. One option if you live in Melbourne or a place with a similar climate is a medium sized bush called Fuchsia boliviana.
Fuchsias are quite versatile plants in the sense that they can tolerate shade and are quite happy either in the ground, potted or in hanging baskets. You can prune your fuchsias to a desired shape in winter. I would not describe them as low water use plants. To thrive they need a good amount of water in the hotter months of the year and will benefit from a feed whilst in their peak growth period. They don't like extremely hot temperatures (close to or above 40 Celsius) but if given shade and lots of water they can survive short periods of extreme heat.
When people think of fuchsias the image that I'm guessing would mostly come to mind is that of the smaller fuchsia shrubs with the intense pink and purple flowers. Fucshia boliviana is a different kettle of fish, it has large drooping red flowers that are of a different shape to their more popular and smaller cousins. You can probably guess from the name that this plant is native to Bolivia, Peru and Argentina and in Melbourne it flowers in late summer and autumn. They can grow to between 2 and 4 metres tall. The one pictured below I have looked after for almost 3 years now. It has survived temperatures of 40 and over. It even made it through a small heat wave where the weather was almost 40 or over 40 for 4 days in a row. It even survived for 2 years with no irrigation other than me giving it the occasional hosing. It did take on a much more vigorous and healthy appearance after I installed drip irrigation to water it. It is located hard up against the corner of south and east facing walls so it virtually gets no direct sunlight. If you live in Melbourne and are willing to give some care to your garden then Fuchsia boliviana is a great plant for a shaded area.
The plant in its entirety in late autumn.
Close up of the striking red / pink flowers.
Hidden from sight in the first picture is this other variant that is growing behind it. Not sure of its name but is the same plant but with white sepals on its flowers.