HOW TO GROW FUCHSIAS


The genus Fuchsia contains approximately 100 species, made up from a variety of shrubs, small trees and climbers. The vast majority are native to central and south America with a few species occurring in Tahiti and New Zealand.

Leonhart Fuchs
The first species discovered was Fuchsia triphylla, found on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Incidentally, Hispaniola was home to the first European settlement in the Americas founded by Christopher Columbus.

The precise dates are not known but it is believed that the French Minim monk and botanist, Charles Plumier recorded Fuchsia triphylla during his third expedition to the caribbean between 1696–1697. Plumier named the new genus after the renowned German physician and botanist Leonhart Fuchs.

Despite their subtropical and tropical origins many of the popular species and hybrids have proven themselves to be hardy enough to remain outside in northern European gardens with little or no winter protection.

Of course the less hardy forms will be cut down to the ground by frosts, but in the milder regions of the continent these less hardy specimens will almost always produce new growth from the roots by the summer. If in doubt either lift, pot on and overwinter in a frost free environment or provide the protection of a dry mulch.

Hardy fuchsias

Fuchsia 'Delta's Sarah'
Hardy garden fuchsia varieties will grow in full sun or light shade in almost any well-drained soil which has had some humus rich compost (such as moss peat or leaf-mould) and a little bone meal added prior to planting. Prepare to plant out fuchsias once the threat of late frosts have passed, but only once they have been properly hardened off - this will usually be around May and June. Water regularly while the roots establish themselves, and in particular during dry spells.

In milder regions such as the south-west coast of England and Ireland, hardy fuchsia will form handsome shrubs but in colder regions they will behave as herbaceous plants with the top growth dying back over the winter only to regrow back in the late spring and summer. Specimens which are cut back over the winter should be pruned to ground level at the beginning of November. The roots should then be covered with a deep layer of dry mulch such as coal ashes, bracken or fibrous peat.

Tender fuchsias

Fuchsia 'Autumnale'
Tender fuchsia species and cultivars for greenhouse or conservatory cultivation, or for summer bedding should be grown in 6-9 inch pots containing a good quality soil based compost such as John Innes 'No 3'. If you intend to treat your tender fuchsia as annual bedding then any grade of multipurpose compost will suffice. In March, trim the plants back lightly to create an even shape. Then water once temperature rise beyond 10 degrees Celsius. As new growth emerges from the stems, use this opportunity to take young shoots for cuttings.

Pot the rooted cuttings into 3 inch pots of John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' compost. Then once established, pot on into 5-6 inch pots where they will come into flower. Pinch out both the leading shoots and any lateral shoots several times to encourage bushier plants. Feed at intervals for three weeks.

Pot plants raised for summer bedding will need to be hardened off for a couple of weeks before planting outside from mid June onwards. Keep them moist otherwise the flower buds are at risk or dropping off. After flowering gradually withhold water, and after leaf-fall give no more water until growth restarts in the spring. In October lift and move to a frost free greenhouse.

Re-pot established plants annually in March and provide a weekly liquid fertilizer once a week from June to September.

Pyramid and standard fuchsias

If larger, formal specimens are required then keep the plants growing over the winter at a minimum temperature of 13 degrees Celsius. Pot them on in the following spring and summer until they are into 10 inch pots. Stop the leading shoot at 6 inch intervals and all lateral shoots at every second set of leaves until 6 weeks before flowering is required. In this way, pyramids of flowers 4-5 ft height can be obtained.

Standard fuchsias are formed by letting the main growing trunk grow unimpeded, removing all lateral growth until a trunk of your desired height is obtained. A stouter main tems can be achieved by leaving a number of shortened laterals on the stem until it is established. the leading shoot is then topped out at the required height. For a weeping standard attach the lateral branches to a wire framework.

For related articles click onto the following links:
ARE FUCHSIA BERRIES EDIBLE?
FUCHSIA THALIA
HOW TO GROW FUCHSIA 'AUTUMNALE'
HOW TO GROW FUCHSIA 'GENII'
HOW TO GROW FUCHSIAS
HOW TO GROW FUCHSIA MAGELLANICA 'Riccartonii'
HOW TO GROW FUCHSIA 'TOM WEST'
HOW TO PRUNE FUCHSIAS
HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS FROM FUCHSIA

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