Fuchsias are one of the most widely cultivated plants in the world. They are one of the few plants that flower in the shade during summer. They are easy to grow and boost plentiful exotic blooms from spring to fall. Fuchsias are available in a variety of colours and forms offering gardeners the chance to feature them in hanging baskets, as hedges and even trees.
Soil and position
Although you will see fuchsias flowering in full sun, they grow ideally in filtered light.
Fuchsias will adapt to many soil types, but prefer a light to medium loam which is not too acidic. Mix in compost to improve soils that are too light or too heavy. In pots of hanging baskets, use a specially formulated mix.
Caring for fuchsias
Feed in early spring with a complete balanced fertiliser such as Palmers General Garden Fertiliser. Unless grown in a container then a slow release fertiliser should be used. The phosphorous content will encourage flowers without promoting excessive sappy growth. Continue feeding once a month through the flowering season with a liquid fertiliser such as Phostrogen.
The soil should be kept moist, but not wet. Watering will be necessary in spring and summer, especially for plants in containers.
Pruning is important to encourage flowering and maintain the shape and size of your plant. Unpruned fuchsias will eventually become very straggly with poor flowering. Pruning takes place in late winter for early summer flowering. In frost free areas, fuchsias can be pruned in autumn. Remove all thin, twiggy or damaged growth. Cut back the strong stems, leaving two or three sets of nodes at the base of last season’s growth.
Styles and shapes
It is important to ensure you choose the variety of fuchsia that is suitable for each particular purpose. There are cascading and trailing forms most suitable for hanging baskets, and more upright and bushy forms which are good for the garden. For making standard fuchsias, choose a variety with a strong upright habit which can also be trained to bushiness by trimming. Palmers have a huge range of varieties available.
Fuchsias can be trained into any shape you desire. Try an espalier shape or maybe a pyramid.
Bush shape – For a compact dome bush, trim the young plant by removing the growing tip and top pair of leaves. This causes side shoots to grow which, in turn, should be ‘stopped’ by pinching out the growing tips. Pinch the resulting new side shoots back again when they reach about 20cm long. This will allow plenty of flower shoots to form.
Hanging baskets – Treat like a bush but let the side shoots grow longer, over the sides of the basket, before stopping. This trimming will delay flowering a few weeks, but in the long run will produce a better shape and more flowers.
Standards – Choose a strong, upright growing plant. As it grows, keep it staked and remove all side shoots, but let the leaves remain. At the desired height (50 – 100cm), pinch out the top. Pinch out resulting side shoots successively, as for the bush shape, until a full head has developed. Then let it flower. It may take over a year to produce the desired results.
Pests and diseases
Fuchsias are very easy to grow and relatively problem free. A healthy plant which is well fed, watered and pruned will overcome most attacks by pests and/or disease. Extra assistance may occasionally be required; aphids, which cause deformed leaves, can be controlled by spraying with Mavrik; mites can be a problem in hot weather, especially in glasshouses. Control with Mite Killer or Spraying Oil. Whitefly causes mottled yellow leaves and is best controlled with Target. For fungus disease (including rust) spray with Fungus and Mildew Spray.
For easy overall control, most pests and diseases which attack Fuchsias can be controlled with Nature’s Way Citrus, Vegie & Ornamental Insect Spray. Simply include fuchsias in your general rose spraying routine.
This ‘How To’ Guide has been produced to provide basic information and our experienced staff are available to answer any questions that you may have. Because this guide is of a general nature, neither Palmers nor its staff are responsible for the application of the information, as the contents may need to be modified for individual projects and site applications.