The Fuchsia genus is native to Tahiti, New Zealand and the West Indies as well as Central and South America. Millions of years ago these countries were all part of the land mass known as Gondwana and when it started to divide into continents and drift apart, the fuchsia genus began to develop into the over one hundred different species recognised today. The genus includes ground hugging plants, shrubs and trees; some very different than the Fuchsia that most gardeners are familiar with.
Fuchsia paniculata, native to Mexico and Panama, is one such species. It has panicles of pendulous pink or purple flowers which are followed by edible, black berries in the late autumn. In ideal conditions it can grow to reach 6-8 metres tall by 3-4 metres wide but can be chopped back hard to keep it a more manageable size. The best time for pruning is the early spring as the flowers form on the new growth. F. paniculata is deciduous and from spring until late autumn will have glossy, green leaves which sometimes have red veins and stems. In milder climates it may keep its leaves and will possibly flower all year round.
Like most species of Fuchsia, F. paniculata is not hardy, although it will withstand short periods of frost. It is not drought resistant either, and will need regular watering during the hottest months. The best situation for this attractive shrub is somewhere where it will receive some dappled shade during the summer and protection from strong winds and frost in the winter. It will also need lots of space to attain its full potential.
As mentioned before, F. paniculata can be cut back hard in early spring which is a good time of the year to also cut out some of the old wood to encourage plenty of new growth and ensure lots of flowers.
Propagation is by seed or soft wood or semi-ripe wood cuttings taken during the growing season.