Encliandra Fuchsias


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What are Encliandras?

Not a lot of information is freely available about Encliandras, and many folk are not aware they are actually Fuchsias. The name Encliandra means 'enclosed male' derived from the fact that four of the eight stemens, or male part of the flower are contained within the tube of the flower.

They are often described as the miniature fuchsias and certainly it can be difficult to see the flowers on some varieties. The cultivar Orange Star has tiny, but perfect red flowers. Encliandras are primarily from Mexico high up in the mountain regions of oak-pine forests, between 1500 to 3400 meters, and consist of six species, F.Microphylla, F.Thymifolia, F.Encliandra, F.Obconica, F.Cylindracea and F.Ravenii. (In this case Encliandra is both the species and the section). Of the species there are nine subspecies. There are about 120 and counting cultivated hybrids the oldest known being from 1839, but the majority of today's cultivars have been produced in the last 40 years.

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The popularity of Encliandras is increasing, people are beginning to realise the potential in them. Everything about the plant is small except the size of the plant which makes it very versatile. What I mean by this is they have very small leaves and flowers, the stems are thin and wiry, but the plant as a whole can grow to three feet (90cm) wide and three feet (90cm) high if planted directly in the garden. Paradoxically they can make small compact plants in pots and with training can be grown in many forms, rings, triangles, pillars and they are excellent candidates for Bonsai, like the one on the left.

I find Encliandras are not difficult to grow compared to some of its relations. Someone once said to me when I started growing them, pinch them a couple of times then put them outside and forget about them, and that's almost the case. They like cool moist conditions which suits them well here in the West of Scotland. They do not however like their feet wet, so must have free draining soil or compost, but I have found them more tolerant than other Fuchsia cultivars. I have also found they will grow almost anywhere, although with varying results, even indoors.

They grow best outside in the brightest position, but avoiding direct midday sun, although they will tolerate it. If you don't have a greenhouse then growing them outside in summer and inside in winter is easy, they are very adaptable plants to most situations.

This brings me to hardiness are they hardy? In my experience they might be, or some might be, which I appreciate is not a very good answer. I have read they are root hardy to -12°C or 10°F. It does seem to be a grey area and I think it depends on the species they were crossed from.

Normally the definition of hardy is if it survives three winters planted in the ground. I have a small tub of about six Encliandras which has been outside all winter. It has been an unusually mild winter this year, and only one night in November it went down to -8°C other than that there has only been the odd night that has gone to -3°C. In February all the plants were still alive, some still in green leaf.

Personally I have found the white flowered ones are not as hardy as the pinks. This is obviously still work in progress to determine how hardy they are.

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The above shows the male and female parts

As Encliandras have only become more popular over the last 30 years, and even some of the species were only discovered in the last 50 years, much is still being learned about them. Whilst general Fuchsia cultivars have been bred in their thousands Encliandras are only somwhere over a hundred, I can name 133, however not all in cultivation I expect.

Hybridisers are finding more colour strains and bigger flowers and much more is to come from them. The ones here on the left and right are both trial seedlings with potential.

One confusing issue is, there are now crosses between Encliandra, Paniculata and other species, products of these crosses are not Encliandra, but classed as interspecific hybrids.

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Once Encliandras start flowering they just keep going and can be, on mature plants, prolific bloomers. Colours vary from white through all the shades of pink to red, some hybrids have three colours on one plant. Some of the newer ones are orange or even bicoloured. A few are even lightly scented and the berries are although small quite tasty, what more could you want? I will tell you.

If you grow Fuchsias you will know there are a variety of pests and diseases which attack your plants and you are constantly on the lookout for greenfly, whitefly, rust, gall mite. Not so with Encliandras, they are gall mite resistant and are not bothered by most other pests and diseases.