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Fuchsias

posted in Perennials |





Introduction

Fuchsias are easy to grow, colourful and one of the most versatile flowers you can get. Low creepers for a rocker garden, bush varieties, hanging varieties for the hanging baskets and ones that can be trained to virtually any shape you can think of.

The name fuschia is given in honour of the German botanist Leonard Fuchs. The majority of fuchias are found in the lower wooded foothills of Central and South America.

Fuchias are fast to grow! Young plants will grow into full flowering plants with an abundance of flower by early summer. Established plants will grow new flowering stems from new growth made from the roots of existing plants.

The versatility of the Fuchsia is because of the variety of:

  • Flower shape - tubular, single, semi-doubles and full doubles. Triphylla have especially long tubes.
  • habit - creeping, trailing, bush, standard, hedge, or trained into virtually any shape.
  • flower colour - there are over 8,000 different fuchsias in cultivation so there is a massive variety of colour from whites, pinks, bright reds, purples, salmons, oranges, crimson and even yellow(although not an all-yellow variety).
  • foliage colours - although grown primarily for the flower, fuchsias also come with a large variety of foliage shapes and colours. Variegated leaves, golden yellows,red/greens, cream/green, pink, autumnal colours, golden/coppery red, silvery green, green and cream with cerise shades and red-bronze.

Choosing and Buying

Buy as plants in early spring from the garden centre or from specialist fuchsia nurseries if you are looking for some of the more exotic or less well known varieties. As usual make sure the plants are strong, healthy and have no signs of pest or disease. Overwatering and bad growing conditions can lead to mould so check the stem and lower branches.

Make sure you buy the correct type for where you are going to put the plant. It’s no good getting a bush variety if you’re putting it in a hanging basket. If you want to grow a standard fuchsia then make sure the young plant has a strong straight stem. If however you’re not going for a standard then you want a well-branched plant with lots of branches growing closely together.

If you intend to keep a fuchsia outdoors then make sure it is labelled as frost hardy, otherwise you will need to take cuttings in the autumn just in case the plant dies over winter.

Planting Out

Generally fuchsias like well drained soil in bright light or dappled shade. As with most plants only plant out when danger of frost has passed. you may need to harden off plants first.

The ground should be weed free and put plenty of well rotted manure or compost in the bottom as you plant. If your soil is heavy then add grit or more compost to open up the soil structure. Light soil will need more extra organic matter added to hold moisture.

To plant frost hardy fuchsias you will to plant them deeply to help protect the roots from frost. After planting the plant a little deeper than usual planting(with the lowest branch just about ground level), scrape back a little soil from the stem to create a little dip. This will be useful for watering and over the summer it will slowly fill up with soil and the plant will be at the correct depth for winter.

Containers

Any pot or container that has drainage holes will suffice for plants. Lifting the pot of the ground will also help drainage. A mulch will help to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

NB - do not use black pots in the height of summer as they will heat up too much and could easily kill your plants.

Mix potting compost with grit and add to your container that has had old crocks placed over the drainage holes, which prevent the compost from clogging up the holes. A standard fuchsia in the middle of a planter will look beautiful if trailing fuchsias are planted around it’s base. Plant the standard fuchsia in the middle and then put empty plant pots around the edge. Fill the container, but not the pots, with compost until there are no gaps and firm down. Remove the pots and then plant your trailing fuchsias in the space left by the pots. Water everything well.

As with all container grown plants, regular feeding is required. Before the plants flower, during spring and early summer feed a high nitrogen feed to help with leaf growth. Once the first buds are showing, you should be feeding a high potash feed for flower production.

Hanging Baskets

First of all hanging baskets can be very heavy as the plant grows and due to the weight of the water after watering, so make sure that any brackets are strong enough. Trailing fuchsias are especially suited to hanging baskets giving a massive amount of flower. 5 plants will fit into a 35cm(14 inch) round basket. You should plant an upright variety in the centre of the basket and the rest around the edge. If you want to ensure even flowering(flowers at the same time) then check the flowering times of the varieties or just go for one variety in the basket.

A rounded basket can be rested on an empty plant pot to keep it level and still. Line your basket with a liner of your choice; coir fibre, recycled paper, wool or some other eco-friendly product. Sphagnum moss isn’t eco-friendly!! Place a few cross cuts around the sides of the liner, you will plant through these slits so that they will grow to cover the basket.

Mix your compost with gravel and add water retaining granules if you wish and fill the bottom of the basket. Gently push your plants through the slits you cut earlier, pushing the plant from the inside of the basket to the outside. Be careful with the young leaves when pushing through. You can wrap the plant in newspaper or plastic before pushing to protect it. Tease out any roots and then fill the basket with more compost. Plant your next plants on the top edge of the basket, so that they are not directly above the plant in the lower tier you just planted. This will help to fill any gaps and help light to reach the lower tier of plants. Add more compost and add your central plant(s). Make sure that the finished level of compost is about 2cm(¾inch) below the edge of the basket. This will help to hold in water when watering.

Care

Fuchsias like to be kept fertile and moist(not waterlogged). They are generally not frost hardy so will require some form of frost protection during periods of frost. Weekly feeding with full strength feed or feed at every watering with ¼ strength feed.

To promote flowering you should deadhead regularly. As soon as a plant starts to produce seed from a dead flower the whole plant could stop producing flowers and your display will stop prematurely.

Fuchsias don’t like it too hot, so if temperatures are going up then provide shading, especially if growing under glass. Patios are notorious hot places, take care! Placing/growing a taller plant in front of your fuchsias may be sufficient to protect them during the hottest part of the day.

Propagation

There are 3 types of propagation;

  • seed
  • cuttings
  • grafting

Propagation from cuttings is generally the best and most successful method available to people. Grafting takes a lot of practice and seed from cultivars are usually not as good as the parent plant.

Spring or autumn is the time when there is plenty of material around for taking cuttings. Preferably using a sharp knife cut a healthy stem. You can get several cuttings from one stem by taking;

  • a soft tip cutting: cut the tip off the stem cutting just above the next set of leaves beneath it.
  • internodal cutting: cut just above the 2nd set of leaves, leaving 2 pairs of leaves on your cutting.
  • single leaf cutting: cust as for an internodal cutting, but then cut this cutting straight down through the stem lengthways

Make sure that each cutting doesn’t have too much leaf surface. If you leave too many leaves on the cutting it could well die before rooting as there is a large surface area that will lose moisture. Ifg each cutting has 2 sets of leaves, then you can trim the bottom leaves by half.

As long as your compost is warm and moist the cuttings will take within 2-3 weeks. The compost cannot be regular compost as there will be too many nutrients in it. Don’t firm the cuttings into the compost, it needs to be open and loose. Any sealed container can acts as a propagator, lemonade bottles, jam jars, etc. After placing the cuttings in the compost you should water gently, either using a water sprayer or watering can with fine rose. A cool position with some shade at around 16°C(61°F). Just leave them alone and they should be rooted in 2-3 weeks.

Training for shape

Fuchsias are easy to train into various shapes, with the exception of species fuchsias which must be left to grow naturally. You can shape fuchsias into any shape you like, but here are a list of the most common shapes;

  • Bush - achieved by pinching out the growing tip of all stems and all subsequent stems. Keep pinching the growing tip once there are about 2 or 3 leaves on the stem and you’ll end up with a bush. Stop pinching out when you have the shape you want and let the plant mature and flower.
  • Standard - pinch out any side shoots as they appear to encourage a tall straight stem. You should tie the plant into a cane to help stability and keep the plant straight. When the stem is 3 leaf sets taller than you want the standard to be, pinch out the tip. This will make the plant produce side shoots, at this point proceed as per a bush by pinching out tips of stems with 2-3 sets of leaves. If the lower leaves haven’t died by this point you can remove them and keep the lower part of the standard just stem.
  • Espalier - this is a plant trained with a vertical stem and a series of horizontal side stems. Allow alternate side shoots to develop so that all the side shoots are growing in the same plane(i.e. left/right and not front/back). Train the side shoots along a supporting frame. Once the height has been reached, pinch out the growing tip. When the horizontal stems have reached the chosen length, pinch these tips out. Let the lower horizontals be longer than the higher ones to create a triangle shape.
  • Pyramid - This is similar to an espalier, except you are aiming for a rounded look and not a flat look. To do this you do not need to pinch out side shoots to maintain one plane, you are aiming for left/right and front/back side horizontal stems. Again make the lower horizontals longer than the higher ones to create the effect.
  • Column - a column is achieved by using 2 plants or pinching out a very young plant so that there are 2 vertical growing stems. To achieve the look, you need to treat as a standard, but leave on the lower leaves and pinch out the horizontal stems so that they are all the same length. Horizontal stems need be no longer than 3 or 4 leaf sets.

You must realise that every time you pinch out parts of the plant you are delaying flowering. If you keep pinching out throughout the full growing season you may not get any flowering at all. This will save flowering until next year. It can take 2 or more years to train your shape depending on the height and width you want.

Pests & Diseases

The following are typical pests and diseases associated with fuchsias, follow the link(where available) for a more detailed look at prevention and cure.

SymptomCause
Falling and yellow leavesAphids
Stunted growthAphids
Sooty deposits of honeydewAphids, whitefly
Distorted tipsAphids, capsid bugs, froghoppers, whitefly
Distortion and holes in leavesCapsid bugs
Lack of flowersCapsid bugs
Frothy white liquid on stemsFroghoppers
Furry grey mouldGrey mould
Stems and shoots turning brown and black, possibly with grey mouldGrey mould
Ants crawling all over the plantHoneydew, deposited by aphids
Bronzing of foliage and leaf fallRed spider mite
Fine cobwebs between leavesRed spider mite
Orange spores on leavesRust
Silver spotting on foliageThrips
Silver spotting on flowersThrips
Plants collapsingVine weevil larvae
Notches in leaf marginsVine weevil

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 at 2:40 pm and is filed under Perennials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 5 responses to “Fuchsias”

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Commenter Avatar On November 27th, 2009 at 11:09 am,
Cambree Notes » Blog Archive » Benefits of Cranberries said:
 

[…] think the flowers look very much like fuchsias, except for what looks like beak here.  And the little green berries are cute.  I wonder how they […]

 

[…] of bored with that.  It’s so difficult to find pretty shade flowers.  A colleague suggested fuchsias, which I think are pretty, so I might do that.  If any of you have any other suggestions, please […]

Commenter Avatar On February 19th, 2012 at 6:27 pm,
Cat Breeds said:
 

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Commenter Avatar On November 14th, 2012 at 7:19 am,
local seo said:
 

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Fuchsias : Gardening Zone.org…

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