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Australians call it "native fuchsia".

Australians call it "native fuchsia'

Reliable and undemanding, correas are unthirsty evergreen shrubs that bear small, bright flowers through winter. They fare magnificently in the milder Western climates (never under 20|).

Because the tubular flowers bear a slight resemblance to fuchsia blooms, you may hear correa referred to as Australian fuchsia (Australians know it as "native fuchsia'). Plants are low-growing (2 to 5 feet tall, depending on species) and sprawling; flower colors range from red and orange to pink and chartreuse. One species, C. alba, bears white flowers in summer. Most of the flower colors attract hummingbirds.

Plant singly or in clusters. Or mass plants as a ground cover, as pictured above. Low-growing kinds do well in large containers placed where you can view the flowers close up.

Now is a good time to set out plants; they'll grow bigger and bear more flowers the first winter. Provide a sunny location with fast-draining--even rocky--soil; or plant on a slope. Water sparingly and never fertilize; like manzanitas and other chaparral plants, these do best with dry, barren soil.

In Western nurseries, you'll most often find C. pulchella, which does well in northern California. It grows to about 2 1/2 feet high and spreads to as much as 8 feet. Flowers appear from November through March; color can vary from light pink to rosy red. Orange-flowered plants labeled as C. neglecta actually are a form of C. pulchella.

C. backhousiana, sometimes sold as C. magnifica, does better in Southern California than C. pulchella. It grows taller, as high as 5 feet, and bears chartreuse flowers from January through April.

C. harrisii is a compact grower (to 2 1/2 feet) that bears clear red flowers.

White-flowered C. alba grows to 4 feet and has arching branches.

C. "Carmine Bells' bears deep red flowers, C. "Ivory Bells' cream flowers; each spreads to 4 feet.

Despite a reputation for being short-lived, plants left largely to themselves can last 15 years or more in fast-draining soil.

Photo: Rosy red inch-long blooms dot Correa pulchella in winter. For a tough but handsome ground cover, as at right in Stanford, California, space plants 5 to 6 feet apart
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Title Annotation:correas
Date:May 1, 1986
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