Zauschneria - aka California Fuchsia - is one of the most drought tolerant, heat tolerant, pollinator-friendly, beautiful perennials you can grow. We're not sure why this western native is not used more: the hard to pronounce name, or that fact that you can kill it with kindness, perhaps? In any case, this lovely plant deserves a place of honor in more gardens here in the Rogue Valley! Ours begin blooming in early to mid-July and keeps going strong until we get a hard frost in late fall; putting on quite a show for us and the hummingbirds!
Zauschneria’s hot orange to deep red flowers are the quintessential “hummingbird flower”: long, nectar-rich floral tubes just perfectly shaped for a hummingbird’s slender bill. This is one of a handful of flowers I’ve seen actually hummingbirds bypass a feeder for! Plants bloom continuously and don’t seem to need any deadheading; the spent blossoms just neatly drop off the plant. In addition, the vivid orange-red flowers contrast beautifully with soft silvery gray foliage that fits perfectly into a drought tolerant garden. They look great when planted with Salvia, Agastache, Perovskia, Gaura, Eriophyllum, Monardella, and other drought-tolerant perennials.
This western native perennial is happiest in a well-drained soil (you see them naturally growing out of rock outcroppings), with full sun and infrequent water. They do especially well on slopes or at the edge of a rock wall. We like to leave up any dormant stems over the winter, to help them survive our wet winters and clean them up in early spring. The stems can be cut back after all danger of cold weather is past and the plant will grow back quickly to be full and vibrant by summertime.
When you see Zauschneria available in the nursery, grab them fast. We don’t carry them all year long and they sell out quickly! They are best planted in spring and summer, when they can have some time to get settled in before winter hits. Most varieties we carry are cold hardy to at least Zone 7b, about 5 to 10 degrees F.
Here’s a short description of a few of the varieties we carry:
Z. c. 'Calistoga'- 1' tall by 2' wide, one of the darkest orange (almost red) varieties with thicker, larger, more silvery leaves than most. Best planted on a slope.
Z. septentrionalis 'Select Mattole' - 10" tall and 24" wide or so. Very silvery, large leaves with a great spreading habit
Z. garrettii 'Orange Carpet' - 6" tall x 18" wide, a green leafed form that can take more afternoon shade and a bit more summer water. It is one of the first to bloom.
Z. ‘Everett’s Choice’ – 6” tall x 2-3’wide, with large vividly red flowers
Z. arizonica – 2-3’ tall, by 2’wide, with gray-green foliage and orange-red flowers¬. Hardy to Zone 5.