Fuchsias – Fuschia hybrids

Fuchsias on balconies or patios will provide you with sensationally colourful flowers for muck of the year. The fuchsias we grow today come from South and Central America, and New Zealand. Originally there were about 100 known species, but they have been crossed so much that countless hybrids (the result of crossing) exist. It is the hybrids that are popular today.

Fuchsias are profuse bloomers and, outdoors on a warm balcony or patio, will give you flowers for 4-5 months during summer and autumn.

In the winter, though, they will need to be rested in a sheltered site, protected from frost.

There are so many different cultivars to choose from. Basically they are either bushy or trailing in their growth, but you can train them into various shapes — fan-shapes are particularly attractive. They can also be trained as espaliers or standards.

The flowers, which come in a wide range of forms, colours and shapes, have no fragrance. They appear from May through to September.

Display ideasFuchsias - Fuschia hybrids

Fuchsias are so extravagant — that they hardly need to be displayed in any special way. A hanging basket of one superb specimen will be stunning. Their effect is best when viewed in profile or from below. They do mix well, though, with other trailing plants like lobelia, geraniums and even nasturtiums.

Through The Year

February

Water plants that have been overwintered to get growth started, but don’t feed yet. Cut out any dead wood and prune to shape.

March—April

When growth starts gradually increase watering and start feeding.

May—June

Fuchsias destined for the patio or balcony should be repotted. Don’t put them outside at night if there is danger of frost.

July—August

By now most fuchsias will be in bloom. Remove faded blooms to encourage new ones. Check for aphids and take tip cuttings.

September—October Prepare plants for winter. They should be brought in and tidied up. Remove all yellow leaves and cut back overlong stems. Check for pests.

November—January Place all patio fuchsias in cool dry locations to rest over the winter.

Training a standard fuchsia

To create a standard, start with a young, rooted cuffing. Allow only the leading tip to grow, removing at an early stage any other new growth (from below ground level and from leaf axils).

Retain the leaves on the stem as they make the food necessary for plant growth. Take out any tiny side-shoots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Use a pencil point to push them out of the axil.

When this main stem (called a whip) is about 45-91cm (18-36in) high nip out the growing tip and allow new shoots to appear from the upper leaf axils. These will form the branches at the top of the standard stem.

Once they have made 7-10cm (3-4in) growth nip the growing tips out. This ensures the growth of a strong framework of shoots.

Pests And Diseases

Lower leaves yellow and fall. Some leaf fall is natural but if excessive plant is too dry.

Prevention: Regular watering.

Whitefly attack fuchsias. Check under leaves regularly.

Treatment: Spray with a suitable insecticide at 3-4 day intervals until eliminated. Isolate the plant from others.

PLANT CARE

Easy to care for, but will need protection in a cool place indoors in winter.

  • Potting: Use a well-drained humus-rich potting compost with added grit. During the growing season keep it evenly moist, never allowing the mixture to dry out. Repot in March just as new growth starts.
  • Fuchsias require regular watering, especially during the growing period, as they are very thirsty and greedy plants. When plants are well developed use a watering can to sprinkle plenty of water on them from overhead.
  • Feeding: Apply a liquid feed every two weeks from April—September.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Grows best in dappled sunlight. Shield it-from strong sunshine.
  • Temperature: Needs a moderate temperature in summer— over 21°C (70°F) will be damaging. In winter a cool temperature between 4°— 10°C (40°-50°F) will be suitable.

Buy in spring when buds are just opening. Make sure leaves and buds look fresh and healthy. Check for pests.

Buy very small plants (no more than rooted cuttings) if you plan to make your own elegant standard plants.

They can last for years if overwintered in cool but frost-free conditions.

For strong and vibrant displays on the balcony or patio throughout the summer and autumn, there are a vast number of fuchsias to choose from.

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