We are all familiar with the gorgeous hybrid Fuchsia, with their large flowers, frilly skirts and lovely colours, blooming in the warmer months. However, there are a number of lesser-known species Fuchsia that also will grow well in our Sydney gardens and some of them are easier to grow than the more flamboyant hybrid types.
Fuchsia boliviana is a very interesting species and it started flowering for me in June 2012. I got it as a cutting from a keen gardener, and it has grown into a rather lanky, 2m-tall shrub (but can apparently get to 3.5 m). It has velvety leaves and hanging clusters of long-tubed, brilliant red flowers, followed by small, red-purple, edible fruit . It is native to the foothills of the Peruvian Andes, and seems to like our climate. There is also a white-flowered form with red markings on the petals, called Fuchsia boliviana var. alba. I think that these shrubs are best grown at the back of a border to hide their gangly stems, and should be regular pinched back to encourage branching, especially when young. Flowering continues throughout winter and spring.
Like most Fuchsia, it will grow in part-shade but flowering seems to be more profuse with more sun. The plant likes a well-drained, humus-rich soil and some mulch during the warmer months. Like most Fuchsia, it does not like waterlogged soil, which can cause fungus problems. It can be pruned after flowering to keep it compact. Propagation is by cuttings taken in autumn or spring. It is fairly frost tender but may survive winter in cold gardens if grown beneath a protective canopy of trees or other shrubs.