Growing and caring for fuchsias

Here on the North Coast, fuchsias enjoy a nearly perfect climate. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens maintains a collection of both species and hybrids. Over 60 fuchsias have been planted in the Woodland Garden. There is also a lovely display of trailing and standard fuchsias in the Display House. You can visit and enjoy the fuchsias any time from summer to late fall, even in winter if the weather is mild.

Planting
Although fuchsias are considered shade plants, they need lots of light to grow and bloom. Choose a location outdoors where the plants receive direct morning sun or filtered sun all day. The warmer the climate, the more shade will be necessary. Fuchsias are at their best where the summer days stay below 85 degrees F. and the nights are cool. In hot and dry climates, the plants grow poorly and the flower size shrinks. Growers in those areas must provide good shade and wind protection and install automatic misting systems. Prolonged sub-freezing temperatures damage the majority of fuchsias. Hardy cultivars can survive temperatures in the teens if they are well established in the ground, have been planted deep, and have been given a heavy layer of mulch. They will freeze to the ground and re-sprout from the roots. Container plants will have to be moved under shelter.
Red- and orange-flowered varieties take full sun near the ocean. White and pastel hanging basket varieties must be shaded. Some small flowered pot plant varieties will also grow in a very bright window, but usually do not do as well as outside, especially on the West Coast.
If there seems to be too much stem between sets of leaves, move the fuchsia to more light. Turning the plants a quarter turn on a regular basis will also make them more symmetrical. If shade in your yard comes from trees, be careful where you place the fuchsias until the trees have leafed out completely.
Soil
Plant fuchsias in humus-rich soil in the garden or use a light organic planter mix in containers with perfect drainage. Wooden containers or fiber pots keep the roots cool and allow the plant to “breathe.” Clay pots do the same but dry out faster.
Watering
Fuchsias like their roots moist, but not soggy wet. Water when the surface of the growing medium becomes dry. A container plant in full bloom needs water once a day or possibly twice in very warm and dry weather. Do not water a wilted plant in the midday heat if the soil is still wet. You may suffocate the roots! Mist the leaves to reduce surface temperatures and move the plant to a cooler location.
Fertilizing
How you care for your fuchsias in March and April will affect how well they grow and blossom in the summer. Start in spring with a regular fertilizing schedule, beginning with a light application each week. A good rule of thumb to use is to mix a balanced water soluble fertilizer half-strength and feed fuchsias each week. You can switch to a “bloom” formula of fertilizer when the plants are setting buds, but do not cut out the nitrogen altogether since fuchsias continue to grow while they are blooming. Remember that a container plant needs regular feeding because there is little soil to hold nutrients and the frequent watering leaches them out faster. In cold winter areas, withhold fertilizer in the fall to harden plants off before they go dormant for the winter. Most fuchsias need long days to flower. Some varieties, notably the F. triphylla hybrids, can be in bloom all year long if the climate is mild.
Pests and Diseases
In hot climates and for greenhouse growers, white fly can be extremely problematic. Whitefly populations in the early stages of population development can be held down by a vigilant program of removing infested leaves, vacuuming adults, or hosing down (syringing) with water sprays. Insecticidal soaps or oils such as neem oil may reduce but not eliminate populations. Don’t miss the underside of the leaves. Test all sprays first; the tender leaves and flowers are easily burned. Also be aware of fuchsia gall mite, a microscopic mite that sucks the plant juices and injects a poison that causes the fuchsia to produce gnarled and crippled growth, similar to peach leaf curl. Stems, leaves, and flowers swell and become hairy and galled. Within these galls, the mites live and breed, protected from predators. See below for a detailed review of treatment.
Rust is a cool weather disease and usually at its worst in the fall. Provide plants with a lot of room for air movement. Pick off affected leaves and destroy them, and avoid overhead watering, which favors spore germination. Give your plants more sun. Grow varieties that are less rust prone. Orange-flowered varieties tend to be the first to rust.
Pruning and Maintenance
Prune heavily in late winter or early spring, after the danger of frost is past. On the North Coast, it is recommended that pruning be done by mid February. Remove dead wood and most of the previous year’s growth for upright fuchsias. Leave only a few strong vertical canes. The pruned branches of a hanging basket should ideally look like the spokes of a wagon wheel. Roots of container plants may also be pruned at this time.
Start feeding as soon as green growth appears. Pinch out growing tips after two sets of leaves are formed. Snipping out the new leaves on the end of each branch makes two new branches grow where there was one. Repeated pinching produces bushier plants and more blooms. Flowers will open six to eight weeks after pinching is stopped. Pick off berries to prolong the blooming season.
Training
Fuchsias can be trained to grow as a bush, tree, basket, wall-pocket, espalier, or even bonsai. To learn which varieties are best suited for which form and how to do it, contact the fuchsia society. See below for detailed information on training a fuchsia standard.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For more information on fuchsias, see the website for the American Fuchsia Society at www.americanfuchsiasociety.org.

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Fuchsia plant care

The fuchsia is a classic garden plant that has been popular amongst gardeners since the plant was first introduced in Europe. Fuchsia plants are very easy to take care of but knowing some tips and tricks can never hurt.

How to Care for your Fuchsia Plant?

  • Bella Fuchsia ® is a garden plant. With the right care, fuchsias feel at home in flower pots, plant containers and flower beds.
  • Bella Fuchsia is a shade-loving plant. A little bit of light doesn’t hurt but avoid spots where the fuchsia would be exposed to the sun all day.
  • Fuchsia plants love water. Don’t forget to water your fuchsia plant regularly, preferably in the early morning or late evening. Pour the water directly into the pot. For abundant flowers, we advise to add NPK fertilizer once every two weeks.
  • Deadheading fuchsia plants: To encourage the growth of new flowers, we recommend removing all spent blooms including the green seed pot.
  • Bella Fuchsia is an annual plant, but overwintering is possible. You can cut back the plant at the end of November and put it in a cool, frost-free and dark room.

The fuchsias of Ireland didn’t appear to need any coaxing. They were robust and thriving, forming hedges along antique stone walls and flourishing as bold specimens claiming their territory in idle pastures.

Above: Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii’ grows wild in Chile as well as in Ireland. Photograph by Dan Lundberg via Flickr.

A look in A Beginner’s Guide to Ireland’s Wild Flowers identified this plant as Fuchsia magellanica and further research labeled it as ‘Riccartonii’, a hardy species commonly known as the “Humming Bird Fuchsia” or “Lady’s Eardrops.” It is actually a native of Chile and Argentina that arrived in England in the 1700s and became a popular garden plant there in the 1800s. It is thought that fuchsia may have escaped from cultivation and began to appear as a “volunteer” in the Irish countryside, where it proliferated in the hospitable cool, moist climate. It is so common there today that some people have even suggested it should replace the shamrock as Ireland’s national flower.

Above: Fuchsia in bloom in Inverness Botanic Gardens in Scotland. Photograph by Tatters via Flickr.

Here in the US, fuchsias are common garden plants, particularly useful for adding a zing of color to shaded areas.The ones most often sold at garden centers are tropical fuchsias (USDA zones 8 to 10) and are frequently grown as annuals although they can survive cold winters if brought inside and allowed to go dormant or grown in a cool, bright spot as houseplants.

Above: Fuchsia magellanica rightfully earns its “earrings” nickname. Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr.

Less well known are the hardy fuchias (USDA zones 5 to 7) like the ones I saw in Ireland. They are substantial bushes which, with the right care, can be grown yearround outside in northern climates.

Above: Photograph byAkshay9891via Wikimedia.

The complicated two-toned blooms (think chandelier-style earrings) usually appear as pendulous, terminal clusters that will bounce around in a breeze and can turn a shady garden nook into a jewel box of vivid color. Read on for tips on how to get these beauties to perform for you.

Cheat Sheet

  • Use fuchsias alone in containers or combine them with other shade-tolerant plants such as oxalis, begonias, lobelia, coleus, or hardy geraniums.
  • Vigilant deadheading will keep your plant in flower.
  • Fuchsias bloom on new wood so aggressively pruning hardy varieties in spring will encourage vigorous flowering.
  • Because fuchsias are heavy feeders, many experts suggest a monthly dose of natural liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion or compost tea, especially for container plants.

Keep It Alive

  • Fuchsias prefer rich, slightly acidic, moist but well-drained soil.
  • These plants are easily burned by bright sun, so plant fuchsias in shade or in a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade.
  • Do not plant fuchsias in full sun unless you are gardening in a cool, moist climate such as the Pacific Northwest.
  • Fuchsias, even the tropical varieties, are not heat lovers and do best in temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fuchsias cannot survive parched soil, especially when grown in containers. Water frequently, especially in hot, dry weather.

If you decide to grow hardy fuchsias in a cold weather climate, your plants will benefit from a generous layer of organic mulch in winter and, because they tend to appear late in the spring, it is recommended that you leave the previous year’s growth in place until the new spring shoots appear. The old woody stems will offer some winter protection to the plant and will also serve as a reminder of your plant’s location while it is dormant.

See more growing tips in Fuchsia: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design in our curated Garden Design 101 guides. Read more about our favorite container plant combinations:

  • Container Gardening: 12 Shade-Loving Plants in My Backyard
  • Container Gardening: Sarah Raven’s 7 Tips for Perfect Flower Pots
  • How to Garden Like a Frenchwoman: 10 Ideas to Steal from a Paris Balcony

With over 100 different species and thousands of cultivated varieties to choose from, fuchsia flowers are one of the most popular choices for gardens. Fuchsia plants are chosen for their beautiful blooms. Their colors are typically rich and vivid, and they make the perfect focal point for any garden due to the fact that they typically bloom all the way from spring to the early fall season.

They typically produce flowers in a variety of pink, purple or white shades that generally contain a single or double set of blooms. There are also a wide variety of trailing fuchsias that are excellent for border walls.

With the high number of species of fuchsia available, it can often be difficult to make a choice. Here are 9 excellent choices for gorgeous garden fuchsias.

Hardy Fuchsia

This award-winning fuchsia is a mid-sized shrub that produces small, elegant leaves that almost look like gold and they sparkle in the sunlight. It will bloom from summer until the winter frosts come about. The foliage on the hardy fuchsia is almost as lovely as the flowers. It grows anywhere from 2-3 feet in height and enjoys full sun or just a few hours of shade. Hardy Fuchsia are perfect for border walls, cottage gardens, and coastal gardens. You should cut back any stems from last year’s flowers in order to keep it going strong year after year. They will thrive in hardiness zones 7-10 and can grow well even in soil that is sandy or contains a good deal of clay.

Tree Fuchsia

This flamboyant fuchsia is a bit rare, but worth the mention due to its exquisite pink, stringy blossoms that almost resemble exotic coral. The blooms start out small, usually in a lilac shade, before exploding into a burst of hot pink. It looks like a flower sparkler. While many fuchsia species are hybrids, the tree fuchsia is a true species. It generally only does well in zones 9-10.

Fuchsia Boliviana

This hybrid species is a real delight in the garden and its blooms can’t help but generate a coastal feel. It is enjoyed by gardeners because it starts blooming very quickly and its blooms continue to grow from summer to mid-fall. It is also a huge treat for hummingbirds and also has a very light scent. It is technically considered a shrub and will grow well in zones 9-11. Some varieties are even edible.

Fuchsia Fulgens

Known as the “brilliant fuchsia” due to its exquisite hanging red or pink blooms, it will stay in full bloom for most of the year before producing a fruit that is edible. It grows about 4-5 feet tall and will only do well in zones 10-11.

Paniculata

This shrubby fuchsia will grow well in zones 9-11. It is pollinated by instincts to grow back year after year. It will grow well in the sandy soil of heavy clay soils of coastal areas. It is a moderately rare fuchsia that produces edible fruit after blooming.

“Dollar Princess” Fuchsia

These fuchsias are enjoyed by gardeners because they grow equally well in either sun or shade. They have funky red and purple blooms and are very exotic in their appearance. They are also enjoyed by garners because they can survive through the winter season in a raised bed. It is technically a shrub that has wood-like branches that produce these hanging flowers. It will thrive in zones 2-11, making it an ideal choice for gardeners in almost every climate.

Seventh Heaven Fuchsia

This fuchsia produces double-blossom flowers that are said to resemble a pair of angel’s wings. Its flowers are typically white with a pink under-blossom. It will do well in zones 2-11 and will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Aurea Fuchsia

The Aurea has delicate golden foliage that is just as lovely to look at as the red blooms that hang gently. It looks nice when paired with flowers that complement its deep, red flowers such as snapdragons. It will do well in full sun, partial sun or full shade. It also can grow well in sandy soil or soil with clay as long as the soil is consistently kept moist. It will do well in zones 6-10.

Swingtime Fuchsia

Excellent for hanging baskets, Swingtime fuchsias produce exquisite white petals that contain traces of a light red that then pops nicely against a darker red sub-petal. This hanging fuchsia produces flowers all up and down its hanging bloom. However, the most stunning, largest flowers are at the end of the stem. They will grow best in full sun or in partial shade and thrive in moist soil. They can be brought inside during the winter and tended to and then brought back out in mid-spring. They enjoy the heat and will grow best in zones 8-11.

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Fuchsia

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Fuchsias add colour to borders, pots and hanging baskets. With a long flowering season, they range from upright bushes to trailers and large standards. The flowers include singles, semi-doubles and doubles, and can be upward or outward facing.

Recommended varieties

There are thousands of different types of fuchsia, having been bred from a handful of wild species found in Mexico, the West Indies and New Zealand.

The first to be named was F. triphylla, found in the Dominican Republic, probably around the end of the 17th century. The discoverer, Father Charles Plumier, was a French Franciscan monk and botanist who named the plant after Leonhart Fuchs – a 16th-century German doctor and herbalist.

Colours vary from pinks, purples, whites and reds to sober or flashy multicoloured mixtures (true yellow is still elusive). Several (for example Fuchsia magellanica) can even be grown as hedges.

They basically divide into the hardy ones that can be left outside all year, the bushy or upright and tender kind for pots, and the dangling, trailing ones for hanging baskets.

All of the flowers have three parts: the upper tube; the sepals beneath that often point out like wings (they look like petals but aren’t); and the corolla (the real petals) – the skirt-like growth underneath the sepals. Each can be a different colour in some varieties.

Hardy fuchsias

These involve little effort, apart from a spring pruning to generate new growth.

  • F. magellanica: flowers non-stop from mid-summer to autumn. It makes a terrific red-flowering hedge, reaching 3m (10ft) high and growing nearly half as wide. Its two best forms are the 1.5m (5ft)-high var. gracilis with scarlet and purple flowers, and the low-growing, 60cm (2ft) high ‘Variegata’ with white-edged, light green leaves. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has given var. gracilis and ‘Variegata’ its Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
  • F. ‘Riccartonii’: widely grown and justifiably popular, it makes dense, twiggy growth that can reach 1.8m (6ft). Its large number of single flowers have a scarlet tube and deep purple corolla. The RHS has given it the AGM.
  • F. ‘Tom Thumb’: a dwarf hardy variety, about 23cm (9in) high, which has single flowers of crimson and mauve. It’s ideal in a rockery, where it can be seen clearly. This plant’s also been given the AGM.
  • F. ‘Madame Cornelissen’: low-growing at 30cm (75in), it makes a small hedge or divide, and has semi-double scarlet and white flowers.

Pot plants

  • F. ‘Annabel’: at 60cm (2ft) high and wide, this has beautiful white flowers with a pink flush. Because the stems are quite lax, it can also be grown in hanging baskets. It’s been given the AGM.
  • F. ‘Celia Smedley’: highly rated by professionals and amateurs, it has a mass of large pink and red flowers, set off by the fresh green leaves. Vigorous and strong growing, 75cm (2.5ft) high and wide, it can also be grown as a standard. The plant’s been given the RHS’ AGM.
  • F. ‘Tennessee Waltz’: upright and bushy, with a height and width of 60cm (2ft), this has an abundance of pink and lilac flowers right through summer and early autumn. It has AGM accreditation.

Trailing fuchsias

  • F. ‘Pink Marshmallow’: makes a terrific show in a hanging basket, with scores of large, pink flowers set against its light-green leaves. It’s been given the AGM.
  • F. ‘Swingtime’: a popular, flashy variety which produces double blooms of red sepals and fluffy bright white corollas. It’s not for the timid. Measuring 60cm (2ft) high by 75cm (30in) wide, it too has been given the AGM.

Growing tips

Hardy fuchsias: Plant them in spring, with the roots slightly deeper than if they were in a container, to offer extra protection during winter. In colder areas of the country, place them at the foot of a sunny, sheltered wall in well-drained soil, and provide winter protection.

Prune hard in spring, leaving just 15cm to 30cm (6in to 12in) of stem, from which new growth will shoot. Plants grown as hedges should be less severely pruned, although a portion of the old frosted wood should always be removed. Only prune when new breaking buds are visible.

Container plants: The majority of fuchsias are tender and therefore prone to frost damage. However, they can be grown easily outside from June to early autumn, before being brought into a frost-free greenhouse over winter. Grow new young plants in John Innes No2, and pinch out the young shoots regularly to encourage bushiness. These can be used as cuttings.

Stop pinching out after late spring or you’ll postpone flowering. Begin feeding the plants six weeks after you’ve re-potted them. Either use an all-purpose feed or high-nitrogen fertiliser in spring, to encourage leafy growth, followed by a high-potash feed once buds appear. Promptly remove fading flowers throughout the summer.

In early September, reduce watering to let the older wood mature. By the end of the month, the plants should be kept almost dry. Stand them in the greenhouse and remove any remaining leaves. Then stop watering. And don’t prune until the spring, when new shoots will begin to grow from the base and all the older wood can be removed. Re-pot immediately.

Greenhouse growing: Any fuchsia can be grown year-round in a greenhouse. This is essential for species such as the red-flowering F. triphylla or F. procumbens, which has a prostrate habit and yellow flowering tube, to perform well. Plant them in pots of John Innes compost, or directly into the ground. Except for this species and triphylla types, which need a minimum winter temperature of 7°C (45°F), most, including the cultivars, can be over wintered successfully at just 10°C (34°F). If you want the flowers to keep blooming over winter, maintain a temperature of at least 13°C (55°F).

Greenhouse humidity, watering, and ventilation: This is best created by soaking the floor during hot weather using a watering can, and mist-spraying the plants. Never allow pots to dry out, and avoid the full intensity of the midday sun. Also, open greenhouse vents on hot days, as fuchsias dislike stagnant air.

Standard fuchsias: Begin by allowing one stem from a young plant to grow upwards, pinching out the side shoots as they appear. Once the stem has reached the desired height, allow three pairs of leaves to grow at the top, and pinch these out to create bushy growth.

Problem solver

Look for attacks of whitefly or greenfly. The bugs can either be squashed manually or treated with a proprietary spray.

Classic Fuchsia Variety

With so many Fuchsia varieties available and new hybrids released every year it is best to divide them into flower types and growth habit.

In terms of flower fuchsias may be either single or double flowering and include both bell shaped flowers and the long F. triphylla types.

Growth habit includes upright bushes, lax types and traillining types. Some are Fuchsia varieties are vigorous and others are more compact and bushy.

And of course the species from where all of the hybrids have been derived, many very attractive in their own right and worth a place in the garden.

Some Fuchsia Varieties include:

  • Fuchsia Melanie Louise
    Single flowering upright bushy habit with deep red sepals and an aubergine corolla. Vigorous and best in the garden or large pot.
  • Fuchsia Voodo
    Double flowering with deep red sepals and a deep purple corolla. A trailing type well suited to a hanging basket or growing where it can tumble down over awol. Long flowering and vigorous.
  • Fuchsia AcclamationFuchsia Acclamation – Double Flowering Trailing VarietyA Double flowering type with pink sepals and a clear pink corolla. Large flowers and a long flowering trailing type suited to hanging baskets. Prune this type in late winter, with a light pruning in summer to helpmkeep a bushy habit and promote more flowers.
  • Fuchsia Brighton Belle
    Single flowering with pink sepals and corolla. A lax habit and well suited to hanging baskets, bushy growth Triphylla
  • Fuchsia Priscilla Anne-Louise
  • Double flowers with a vigorous but slightly lax habit suited to hanging baskets, however it will outgrow them in a few years. Pink sepals and a deep salmon corolla.
  • Fuchsia Jamie Evan
    Single flowering lax to trailing type with pink sepals and a purple corolla with classic bell shaped flowers. Medium bushy habit, excellent in hanging baskets

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Fuchsia Flowers – Annual Or Perennial Fuchsia Plants

You may ask: Are fuchsia plants annual or perennial? You can grow fuchsias as annuals but they are actually tender perennials, hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. In colder zones, the plants die in winter, just like annuals do. Read on for information about fuchsia flowers and fuchsia plant care.

About Fuchsia Flowers

Fuchsias look exotic. This fascinating flower offers blossoms that look like little hanging lanterns. You can get fuchsias that flower in shades of red, magenta, pink, purple and white. In fact, there are many kinds of fuchsias. The genus contains over 100 species of fuchsias, many with pendulous flowers. Their growing habits can be prostrate (low to the ground), trailing or upright.

The fuchsia plants most familiar to many gardeners are those that

are planted in hanging baskets, but other types of fuchsia flowers that are upright are also available in commerce. Fuchsia flower clusters grow along the tips of the branches, and often have two different colors. Many hummingbirds like fuchsia flowers as much as we do.

Once the flowers are finished, they produce an edible fruit. It is said to taste like grape spiced with black pepper.

Annual or Perennial Fuchsia

Are fuchsia plants annual or perennial? In fact, fuchsias are tender perennials. This means that you can grow these plants outside if you live in a very warm climate and they will come back year after year.

However, in many chillier climates, gardeners grow fuchsias as annuals, planted outside after all risk of frost is passed. They will beautify your garden all summer long, then die back with winter.

Fuchsia Plant Care

Fuchsia flowers are not difficult to maintain. They prefer to be planted in organically rich, well-drained soil. They also like regular watering.

Fuchsias thrive in areas with cooler summers, and do not appreciate humidity, excessive heat or drought.

If you want to overwinter your fuchsia plants, read on. It is possible to overwinter tender perennials by manipulating the environment just enough that the plant can continue growing. Perhaps the most important element is to monitor the minimum temperature exposure. When temperatures approach freezing, put the fuchsias in a greenhouse or enclosed porch until the coldest weather is passed.

Last May I planted trailing fuchsia plugs into a hanging basket. They grew and flowered beautifully into December, but are now just bare branches. Are trailing fuchsias annuals or perennials? Do I need to start again this spring, or will the lifeless branches suddenly sprout new leaves and flowers?
It is unlikely that they will resprout, as many bedding fuchsias are not frost-hardy. Look at it this way, though: you get a whole new colour scheme this year! Pull out the old ones and compost them; for the best display, add new compost, too. (The spent compost can go on the compost heap or be used to mulch on top of other pots to keep weeds down.) The new compost will provide food for your next display. Most multipurpose compost has six to eight weeks’ worth of plant food added to it: after that, start your own programme of feeding with liquid feed. The more love you pour on your hanging basket, the bigger and better it’ll look. Watering late in the evening or early in the morning is far more efficient than in full sun.

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