Phygelius are not well known in our local gardens, but they are nothing new. In retrospect I realize that there was a lot of horticulture going on in the neighborhood where I grew up in Silver Spring. One of the families we were friendly with on the block where I grew up had an intriguing small garden. I saw a number of plants there for the first time. Among them was a Cape fuchsia, a Phygelius. Who would have thought that they were being sold here in the greater Washington, D.C. area a half century ago? You’ll have to look long and hard to find established plants now, and it’s doubtful if any of those introduced so long ago persist.
I’m giving ‘Cherry Ripe’ a trial this year up at the community garden plots. So far its performance has been puzzling. The plant seemed to be growing all along, and at the tips of the stems I could make out what seemed to be developing flower buds. But these did not mature into actual blooms until about two weeks ago. The plant is blooming freely now: but will it wait until August every year to start blooming? A bit of Googling turned up comments which suggest that it should be indifferent to day length and has the potential to bloom all year if temperatures allow.
Plants in bloom look a bit like the tall Sinningia blooming now such as S. ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ , ‘Towering Inferno’ and S. sellovii: the flowers dangle in the same way.
Googling turns up winter hardiness ratings of USDA zone 6 for ‘Cherry Ripe’: I’m doubtful, although zone 6 might be possible in a very winter dry climate. The plant here will probably spend its first winter in a cold frame.