Fuchsias were first introduced to Europe in the early eighteenth century in the form of a published botanical description. This was the work of a missionary, Father Plumier, who, in 1703, published a description of a plant he named Fuchsia triphylla flore coccinea, honouring a German professor of Botany, Leonard Fuchs. with the name. Unfortunately, the origin of the plant was not identified with the description and it was almost 100 years before fuchsia plants were collected again and made available for cultivation in Europe.
Followed their introduction, fuchsias rapidly gained popularity. They flourished because their heating requirements were less demanding than other exotics, and as garden plants they were popular for their long and generous flowering season.
Several of the species that were introduced early in the history of fuchsia cultivation have had a major impact on the cultivars available today. The first fuchsia, F.triphylla, originating from Haiti, is in fact extremely difficult to grow, so much so that it is now rarely seen in cultivation. As one of the parents of the popular “triphylla” group, which were raised in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century, however, it still has a prominent profile. F.magellanica and F. coccinea, both originating from the Southern Andes and the uplands of south east Brazil, were also early introductions and were easily cultivated in Europe. Although both species have small flowers, they are tolerant of cool growing conditions, and have played a major role in the parenthood of the modern hardy cultivars.
Increasingly through the nineteenth century, colour became an important element in the garden, and bright displays were achieved through the use of bedding plants. Tender fuchsias, such as members of the ‘triphylla’ group , planted out into summer bedding schemes must have contributed. In the late nineteenth century, double-flowered cultivars appeared, several of which are still grown.
Modern goals in fuchsia breeding include the development of ever larger flowers, and of course the search for the still elusive yellow fuchsia and blue flowers that do not fade like lilac.