OUTRAGEOUS FALL COLOR: EXCHANGE FUSHIAS FOR ZAUSCHNERIA
By Cassy Aoyagi: Annuals can add color and life to landscapes desiccated by summer winds and heat, but their fleeting beauty comes with hidden costs.
For example, the fiery reds, fabulous fushias, and outrageous oranges of Salvia Splendens and Salvia Coccinea’s require excessive water and fertilizer to survive Southern California’s dry climate. Like most annuals, these Salvias are greenhouse grown. Greenhouse growing processes consume a great deal of energy, and greenhouse plants frequently travel long distances to lawn and garden centers.
There is a way to get the color without the cost. While both Salvia and the Zauschneria (aka California Fuchsia) native to California’s coastal sage, bluff, desert and foothill communities, offer bright bursts of color, Zauschneria boasts several advantages over greenhouse grown Salvias. Zauschneria:
- Blooms from summer through the fall with one simple cut-back in early fall
- Requires little or no water after its first year
- Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies that bring lively beauty to landscape while increasing pollination, promoting beneficial predators and attracting indigenous critters that add biodiversity and bolster a fertile and healthy garden.
- Comes in a wide variety of colors and foliage types, including the sharply contrasting bright red blooms and deep tropical green so similar to Salvia
There are several varieties of Zauschneria with varied charms and needs. ‘Berts Bluff’ and ‘Catalina’ perform well in full sun on the coast or in shadier areas in the inland and valleys. Zauschneria californica can withstand greater heat and sun and thrive in our inland and valley areas, and desert varieties that can take high heat try Zauschneria latifolia can take high heat and enjoys desert areas.
For more guidance on where to plant big dry ones, see our past Wet-to-Dry Exchange articles.