Fuchsia 'Nettala'

(4/27/2010) One corner of my garden is in moderate to deep shade, so in November of 2009 I looked for a flowering vine that could do well in such little light. In my search I came across a Fuchsia ‘Nettala’ at Annie’s Annuals. I have a lot of fond memories of the Fuchsias that thrived along the California Coast  30 years ago and the trip I once made to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in 1984 where hundreds of mature Fuchsias were in bloom. But with the introduction of the Fuchsia gall mite in the ’80′s, the number of Fuchsias planted in this region has declined significantly. Seeing that ‘Nettala’ was mite resistant, I decided to take a gamble.

fuschia netalla

So far the plant is thriving. From a short 6″ tall seedling, in seven months it has grown to a 4′ tall vine. I had one small scare when a couple of the tips showed mite damage, but the infestation disappeared with the application of a systemic insecticide. My one concern is that the area may be too shady for the Fuchsia to bloom, so we will see in a few months.

Fuchsia 'Nettala'

(5/22/2010) The Fuchsia continues to spread at an astounding rate. To think that this flower was a mere 6″ seedling six months ago. It certainly seems very happy with its environment so far.  I’m still seeing occasional problems with mite damage, but so far the all purpose fertilizer/insecticide seems to be keeping them in check.

My one other concern was that, while I was seeing phenomenal growth, there were no signs of setting buds. Until today, when I spied the first flowers. Maybe there is hope that I’ll pull off a miracle and have a (warning – alliteration overload ahead) freely flowering Fuchsia outside my living room window.

(Update 6/27/2010) Vines fascinate me with their aggressiveness and persistence.  Even an unassuming vine like the Fuchsia ‘Nettala’ can put on an amazing growth spurt. In the first seven months that I have had the ‘Nettala’ in my garden it has transformed itself from a six inch tall seedling into a vine that has completely covered a 4'x8' trellis.

At first I took a very patient and controlled approach to the plant. I methodically tied up each individual branch to the lattice to keep the plant properly supported and pinched off the tips to ensure it did not become spindly. By May the vine had reached the top of the lattice, so I stopped tying off the branches and pinching the tips.

Fuchsia 'Nettala'

Fuchsia 'Nettala'

Within a week the plant exploded before my eyes. Flowers developed on the tip of almost every branch and the vine doubled in volume. My earlier concerns that the ‘Nettala’ might not produce many blooms was completely unfounded. Better yet, each plump bloom is a gorgeous deep red that stands out prominently against the green background.

(7/13/2010) Okay, I way underestimated how well this flower would do. In two weeks it has sent out scores of flowers and transformed the garden. People who walk by stop and stare in disbelief at the deep red flowers that dominate the walkway.

Fuchsia 'Nettala'

Most importantly, I planted the Fuchsia in the most promenant part of the garden, right outside my livingroom window. If the Fuchsia had done poorly, it would have taken down the whole garden with it. Instead, it has created a fantastic center piece. Wow!

Fuchsia Netalla

1/16/2011 – A day of reckoning. A day when I have to acknowledge that is time to cut back the fuchsia in preparation for the new year. After six months of constant blossoms, Nettala is getting tired and forlorn.

After getting some advice at Annie’s Annuals, I took out the shears and cut the branches to knee length above the ground. Now comes the hard part – waiting three or four months to see if I did the right thing.

fuchsia

4/3/2011 - Sure enough. Four months later and 'Nettala' is back. Whew! I didn't kill it!

Now starts a period of 2 months carefully tip pinching the shoots to keep the plant bushy and waiting patiently for June.