Fuchsia is a large genus which consists of roughly 110 species – as well as 3,000 cultivars – and belongs to the onagraceae family. Fuchsia plants originated in South America; however, their distribution ranges from Central America all the way to Tahiti. These plants are typically divided into two sections: trailing and upright. The trailing varieties contain long, flowing stems that end in bright flowers; the upright types – which are most common – are erect and bushy. Depending upon the species, these plants may be either evergreen or deciduous; their foliage may be either serrated or whole, whorling or opposite. Their most spectacular feature, though, are their uncanny, pendulous blossoms, which may be red and purple, purple and blue, deep red or orange.
Fuchsia plants have a long and fascinating history. Although it is unknown who truly discovered this genus, the first recorded history of its growth came about in 1703 by the French botanist and missionary, Father Charles Plumier. This first discovery was the fuchsia triphylla, and was named after Plumier’s well-regarded collegue, Leonhart Fuchs. After Charles Plumier had taken the seeds of his newly recorded fuchsia triphylla back to England, several other species were discovered and many hybrids were created from them. The popularity of fuchsia plants peaked during the Victorian era, faded slightly during World War I, and then truly came into its own during the 1950s. The influx of popularity that this plant gained during the 1950s has continued up until today. In fact, these plants are still so well loved that a large group based in Seattle, Washington – known as the Northwest Fuchsia Society – have dedicated themselves to informing professional horticulturalists, gardeners, and casual enthusiasts on all there is to know about Fuchsia plants. This group, and others like it, hold many events – from judged shows to plant sales and annual meetings.
In general, fuchsias are the symbol for confiding love. As a gift, these plants are commonly given on romantic or significant occasions to represent the trust that the giver feels in the recipient. Although fuchsias are occasionally added to bouquets for bright, elegant splashes of color, they are most often presented as potted plants – with foliage intact – or within hanging baskets.