California Native Garden
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Plant of the Month

Plant of the Month
August 2010

Epilobium (Zauschneria) californicum 'Catalina'-California Fuchsia selection

Type:  Perennial (Somewhat herbaceous)

Light:  Sun

Soil:  Adaptable but prefers well drained soils

Water:  Drought tolerant

California Fuchsia’s are some of our state’s showiest plants when the time comes for them to bloom. Their colors are principally orange and orange-red although there are cultivars that include white and salmon. They are deservedly known to native gardeners throughout California for two things; blooming fiercely through summer and fall’s hottest and driest periods and for being a wonderful attractor and feeder of hummingbirds.

‘Catalina’ is a wonderful cultivar and just like many of the great Hummingbird Trumpets it has extraordinarily lovely flowers which are definitely attractive to hummers! ‘Catalina’ was selected by Mike Evans of Tree of Life Nursery from the Middle Ranch on Catalina in 1987 and was introduced by Tree of Life Nursery in 1990. San Marcos Growers says, “…for those that want a big California Fuchsia this one is the best!”

Unlike most California Fuchsias which spread out, 'Catalina' is an upright shrub to 3-4' with nice silvery foliage and large, bright red flowers in late summer and fall. It is a densely branching sub shrub that blooms for an extended bloom period, is taller than all other California Fuchsia, and has soft gray foliage that adds a pastel note to the plant.

There is some disagreement about the genus name (It used to be known by that wonderful, mouth filling name Zauchsneria. What a ripe word to say!) Sadly, that was changed to Epilobium in 1992. Now there are issues with the species names as well. In this case the common name of California Fuchsia may be the most accurate, at least until the taxonomists figure things out!

Maintenance, like most California Fuchsias, is the normal cut to the ground in winter for a bushier plant (and more flowers) next year. In well drained soils it enjoys some deep watering in summer but still likes drying out between watering. Like most California Fuchsias it does not like soggy clay soils! So if your soil is like our Garden’s clay, let it go dry for most of the summer months.