September Plant of the Month: Epilobium

September is here and we've got a plant for you this month that is just starting the show off while most flowering plants are starting to tire out - enter Epilobium, the fuchsia of California! If you're looking for plants to feed hummingbirds, look no further than this tubular flowering perennial/subshrub. This California native is best suited to sunny or lightly shaded spots and is tolerant of drought once established. They are hardy to less than 10° F, so if you've got winter cold spells, this is a safe bet. Don't overwater during summer, especially in heavy soils, as they require well-draining soil. Read on for a few of my favorite varieties of California fuchsia.

Bright flowers on the Catalina CA Fuchsia contrast the blue-green leaves.

Bright flowers on the Catalina CA Fuchsia contrast the blue-green leaves.

Epilobium canum 'Catalina' - Catalina Fuchsia: This variety can reach 4' tall and 5' wide when mature, and has bright orangey-red flowers that pop off of silvery green foliage. If you're wanting a large California fuchsia to cover some space, this is a great one!

Epilobium 'Bowman's #1' - Bowman's California Fuchsia: It's got a hashtag built into the name, it's bound to start trending. The colors on this are similar to those of 'Catalina', but it tops out at 2' x 2' of growth and is more upright than 'Bowman's #2', making it great for smaller gardens. Flowers from early summer until the first frost!

Sorbet toned flowers on a hot day

Sorbet toned flowers on a hot day

Epilobium 'Marin Pink'- Pink California Fuchsia: This unusual variety boasts pink blooms with peachy notes on a 2' tall, vigorous mound. It has sage green foliage, and will appreciate room to spread by rhizomes. Once established, it will survive on rainfall unless in winter drought.

Epilobium canum var. latifolium 'Everett's Choice' - Everett's California Fuchsia: It's not always easy to find a low-growing (Super low! Ground-hugging low!) plant that spreads wide and offers proliferous blooms. Everett's Choice fits the bill though! Less than 6" tall, and up to 5' wide with white fuzzed gray-green leaves and eye catching flowers. Will remain fuller with a bit of summer water.

These are a few of my favorite selections for California gardens, but there are more out there. It's a great plant to attract hummingbirds and is tolerant of cold temps and deer (hint hint all you North County folks). As summer's ending and the blooms are starting to fade in your gardens, try Epilobium for color that will last past September.

Everett's CA Fuchsia is so cute and short. Cover photo is also 'Everett's Choice'.

Everett's CA Fuchsia is so cute and short. Cover photo is also 'Everett's Choice'.

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