GROWING FUCHSIAS OUTDOORS

SITE AND SOIL

Any reasonable garden soil will do if it is well-drained. Improve its moisture-holding capacity by digging in compost, peat or leaf mould before planting. Add Bone Meal ifthesoil is infertile. Fuchsias need sun but there can be some shade during part of the day.

PLANTING OUT

Choose with care. Pick an Outdoor variety if you plan to leave the plants in the ground over winter – you have a much wider choice from the Bedding varieties if you propose to bring the plants indoors after the summerdisplayisover. Bedding-out time is between late May andearly June when the risk of frost is past. The secret of success for growing Fuchsias as perennials is to plant Outdoor varieties so that about 4 inches of the stem is below ground level. This may seem odd but it does ensure that growth buds will be protected from surface frosts in winter. Water the pots about an hour before planting.

WATERINGS FEEDING

Water thoroughly when the weather is dry. Feed occasionally with a liquid fertilizer such as Instant Bio.

PROPAGATION

Use the tips of non-flowering shoots as cuttings. In spring or summer insert 3 in. cuttings in pots of Seed and Cutting Compost – keep in a cold frame or propagator and rooting will take place in about 3 weeks. Pot on the rooted cuttings into 3 in. pots.

WINTER CARE

If you live in a mild region, the Outdoor varieties may over winter as green-leaved shrubby bushes, but in most areas the top growth will be killed. Do not cut down the stems – leave them for protection and delay pruning until spring. As added protection, cover the crowns with bracken, straw or peat. The Bedding varieties will need to be taken indoors during winter. In October lift the plants carefully and transfer them to pots. Store these pots in a greenhouse or well-lit shed for the winter. Keep cool, do not feed and water very sparingly until spring arrives.

PRUNING With Outdoor varieties which have spent the winter outdoors, cut down the stems to 1 in. above ground level in March.

PESTS & DISEASES

Fuchsias are usually healthy plants but aphids, capsids, red spider mites and caterpillars may attack the leaves. Whitef ly can be a menace indoors. Use a general-purpose spray based on a systemic insecticide – Long-last is a suitable example. Rust and grey mould occasionally attack the leaves – use a fungicide but do check that it is suitable for Fuchsias by reading the label before you buy it.

HEIGHTS SPACING

Bushes: Height 2 ft. Spacing 1.5 ft.

Standards & Pyramids: Height 3-5 ft. Spacing 2.5 ft.

FUCHSIA SHAPES

BUSH

To induce bushiness, pinch out the tip after 3 sets of leaves have been formed. This will promote the development of side shoots – when each of these have developed 3 sets of leaves, pinch out the growing tips.Theplantsshouldbesup-ported by means of twigs or stakes.

PYRAMID

Choose a vigorous Upright variety and allow the main stem to grow 2 ft tall. Pinch out the tip this will promote the develop-ment of side shoots. Allow the topmost shoot to grow upwards pinch out the tips of the other s when they have developed 3 sets of leaves. Repeat the process until the pyramid reaches the desired height.

TRAILER

Choose one of the Basket (Trailing) varieties, such as ‘Cascade’ (white sepals, red corolla), ‘Marinka’ (red sepals, purple corolla), ‘Pink Galore’ (pink sepals, pale pink corolla) or ‘Swingtime’ (red sepals, white corolla). Pinch out the growing point when the leading shoot has reached the desired level. Pinch out the tips of the side shoots as soon as they have developed 3 sets of leaves.

Some form of training is required to ensure that the plant will have enough shoots to produce a colourful head of flowers. Training involves pinching out the growing points (stopping) to induce side shoot formation. This stopping process must cease before you want the plant to flower – it takes about 7 weeks for a plant to flower after pinching out. Growing the plant as a bush or trailer is the usual outdoor form as top growth may be killed by winter frosts. Standards and pyramids take more than a single season to reach the desired height and shape, so these Fuchsia forms must be kept indoors during winter.

STANDARD

Choose a vigorous Upright variety such as ‘Avocet’ or ‘Mission Bells’. Alternatively use a Basket variety such as ‘Cascade’ or ‘Pink Galore’ – the stem will have to be staked from the start and it will take longer, but a better standard is produced. Place a stout cane next to the plant. Remove side shoots (but not the leaves) from the leading shoot until the desired height is reached. Tie this stem as it grows to the cane. Remove growing point when desired height is reached. Allow 5 or 6 strong shoots to develop to form the head of the standard. Remove leaves from main stem.

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