“Be a good Californian; be loyal to your own state and keep your landscape Californian, by planting trees from California.”
Epilobium canum is a champion of summer color. When many native plants in the landscape are in summer dormancy, Epilobium blooms brightly with its orange-red flowers held aloft on grayish-green foliage. Commonly called California fuchsia, its brilliant color and tubular flowers are guaranteed to attract hummingbirds. In reality, they depend upon each other: Epilobium requires hummingbirds for pollination while its flowers are a main source of summer nectar for hummers.
Most plants will flower for 1-2 months; some start as early as late June, and others will continue until late September or even October. Epilobium canum performs beautifully in pots and baskets, drinking up full sun and little water.
Epilobium canum was introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne (1872-1963), an English horticulturist and botanist. However, Payne’s best known work was done over his adult life in California. Here he developed a lifelong interest in its native plants, exploring extensive natural areas and documenting hundreds of species. He introduced many of these plants into cultivation.
From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne’s 1941 catalog: “…the plants throw up many wiry stems 1 to 2 feet high with narrow, gray green foliage. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, brilliant scarlet, appearing from late summer to early winter, when the plants are often a mass of brilliant color. A wonderful plant for covering dry banks, flowering as it does during the driest portion of the year, after other flowers are passed. Fine for rock gardens. Gallon cans, 35c.”
We not be able to match Payne’s price, but we’ve got some stunning varieties that live up to his vivid description of this well-loved California native plant.
Epilobium canum ‘Cloverdale’
Cloverdale California fuchsia sports olive-green fuzzy leaves and stunning orange-scarlet blooms late summer-fall.
It is a great way to encourage important pollinators to your garden. This semi-deciduous perennial plant grows rapidly to 2-4 feet high and about 4 feet wide. It looks good along streambanks where it provides erosion control.
Epilobium canum ‘Catalina’
This beautiful variety was found at the California’s lovely Catalina Island. It this upright variety reaches 1-3 feet tall and 4 feet wide with grayer leaves than most varieties. ‘Catalina’ boasts a later, longer period of its red-red 1-2 inch blooms. Make it part of a native border next to a patio to enjoy Catalina’s flowers and their visitors. It will grow in full sun to part shade and is very drought tolerant once established.
“The rapidity with which the wild flowers are decreasing is most alarming.
If we do not begin to preserve them, the time will soon be here when they will become extinct and live only in history.”
~Theodore Payne, 1916