How to Care for Fuchsias
Learn how to properly care for budding fuchsias all year round with these simple gardening tips.
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Commonly grown in hanging baskets, there's a lot to love about the fuchsia, especially because there are so many selections to choose from. If planting a hardy fuchsia, it can also make a great shrub in the garden.
With uniquely attractive flowers and bushy foliage, the fuchsia is a beautiful plant, but not every gardener believes they can keep the plant alive. Gardening enthusiast Ciscoe Morris offers a few fuchsia pointers to help them flourish.
There's a cultivar for virtually every condition in the country, including cold climates, like 'Molonae.' It tolerates temperatures at about minus 10 degrees F. In fall, cut it down to the ground. 'Neon Tricolor' fuchsia is also hardy in low temperatures down to zero to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Its flowers are pink, orange and yellow. 'Queen Esther,' on the other hand, loves heat, not the cold. Depending on their exposure to the sun, some fuchsias can also change foliage colors, like Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' which is golden in sunshine and green in shade.
Some fuchsias come with interesting names. "'Lottie Hobby' should be called 'Lottie Hobbit'," says Morris, because of its small size. 'Lottie Hobby' is hardy to 10 degrees F. 'Papoose' is another tough selection that can grow at 5 degrees below. Plant it in full sun.
Once you find your favorite fuchsia, you'll want to make sure it looks its best while in bloom. As fuchsias grow over the summer, the flowers develop at the end of the branches. According to Morris, this is the last thing you want. He recommends occasionally cutting back branches wherever you want a new bloom to start.
One challenge with fuchsias is overwintering the less hardy varieties. Ensuring that beautiful blooms come back summer after summer means taking appropriate measures to get your plant through the cold season. This may mean extensive pruning.
This fuchsia standard needs pruning to ready it for the new weather. If it was planted in a hanging pot or in the ground, it would be cut back to six inches from the soil surface. However, since it's a standard, Morris prunes it back six inches from where it branches at the top of the plant. Make cuts at the leaf nodes, where a leaf is attached to the stem and where new growth forms from the buds. Because the fuchsia will drop its leaves over winter anyway, cut or pull all of them off. Then it's ready to store for winter.
With a hanging basket, also remove the leaves before storing it. Put both the standard and the hanging basket in a dark location because you don't want them to grow.
Don't forget to water the fuchsia during the winter. It only needs to be watered twice during the season. Morris suggests watering on major holidays so you don't forget.
In spring, transplant the resting fuchsia, especially if it is rootbound. After removing it from its existing container, dunk the root ball in a bucket of water and work off some of the soil. Then fill a new container about three quarters up with new soil and place the plant into the container. The fuchsia might look too small for the pot, but it will grow back and fill in the pot.
"Now I can hang this back up in the daytime, but every night before Mother's Day, it has to go back into the garage so it's nice and cozy every night," says Morris. "Around Mother's Day it's ready to spend the rest of the summer outside."
In summer, give the fuchsia plenty of water so it doesn't dry out. Apply a soluble fertilizer every two weeks. In the heat of the summer, Morris recommends to water the plant with ice cubes to keep it cool.
Follow these steps for the season and your fuchsia is sure to be the envy of all the beauties in your garden. Even the hummingbirds will love them.