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Fuchsia

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last updated Dec 11, 2013
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Fuchsia 'Bon Accorde' Credit: RHS

Fuchsias are grown for their very attractive, usually pendent flowers that are borne more or less continuously from summer to autumn. They are useful in summer-bedding schemes, containers or in the ground. Some fuchsias are hardy enough to be used as hedges and in permanent plantings.

Cultivation notes Back to top

All fuchsias have the same general routine care: In the garden grow in fertile, moist but well-drained soil, with shelter from cold, drying winds. In containers, use a loam-based potting compost (John Innes No 3) or peat-free multipurpose compost. Water fuchsia plants sufficiently to keep the compost moist but not waterlogged. Do not leave plants standing in water. Fuchsias prefer shade for the hottest part of the day.

  • Half-hardy fuchsia: Overwintered in frost-free conditions. Trailing types are ideal for hanging baskets (where they may need to be watered daily); and upright fuchsias are a good choice for container cultivation. In both cases, plants benefit from a balanced, liquid fertiliser in late summer
  • Hardy fuchsia: Plant the base of the stem 5cm (2in) below the soil surface. Protect the crown of hardy fuchsias in autumn with a mulch of compost, bark or straw. Take cuttings (see below) of hardy fuchsia in early autumn as insurance against frost damage. Apply a dressing of general fertiliser in spring and again in summer
  • Standard fuchsia: Should always be brought under cover for winter as the main stem is prone to frost damage even if the variety is considered hardy. A balanced, liquid fertiliser used in summer encourages better blooms over a long flowering period

Fruit

The fruit of all species and cultivars of fuchsia are edible but the quality is variable: some are tasteless, others have an unpleasant aftertaste. The fairly large fruit of Fuchsia splendens are reputedly the most worthwhile, having a citrusy, peppery tang. They are best used for jam.

Pruning and training Back to top

Fuchsias are most commonly trained into bushes and standards. Fans and espaliers may be created in the same way as fruit trees.

Bush fuchsia

Begin training bushes as soon as the young plants have developed three sets of leaves.

  1. To form a bush, pinch (stop) the growing tip to stimulate two-to-four sideshoots to grow
  2. Once these sideshoots have each developed two sets of leaves, stop the shoots to encourage bushiness
  3. Repeat step two until the plant is as bushy as needed. Pinching out increases the potential number of blooms but delays actual flowering - flowers usually open six to eight weeks after you finish stopping

Standard fuchsia

It will take 18 months to achieve a full standard fuchsia and about six months for a quarter or mini standard.

  1. Leave the tip of a young fuchsia to grow and wait until sideshoots appear
  2. Pinch out all the sideshoots, but do not remove the leaves on the main stem
  3. Use a cane to support the plant and tie the stem at intervals along it
  4. Repot as soon as the roots have started to fill the existing container. This will ensure that it grows upwards as quickly as possible
  5. Continue until the desired length of stem has been reached. The recognised stem lengths for standard fuchsias are:
    • "mini standard" 15-25cm (6-10in)
    • "quarter standard" 25-45cm (10-18in)
    • "half standard" 45-75cm (18in-2½ft)
    • "full standard" 75cm-1m (2½-3¼ft)
  6. Allow a further three sets of leaves to develop, and then pinch out the tip. After this, training involves the same stopping procedures as for a bush (steps two and three)

Renovation pruning

For advice on renovation pruning please see our profile.

Propagation Back to top

  • Softwood cuttings – spring through summer
  • Semi-ripe cuttings – late summer with bottom heat
  • Hardwood cuttings – late autumn, before severe frosts occur. Set in a cold frame or similar and ensure the compost remains just moist through winter. Once the cuttings have rooted, in early spring, pot on or use the young shoots as softwood cuttings

Cultivar Selection Back to top

  • Fuchsia 'Genii' AGM (fully hardy) – upright, free-flowering shrub with red shoots and lime-yellow foliage. Small, single flowers have cerise tubes and sepals and violet corollas, turning purple-red. Height and width 75-90cm (30in-3ft)
  • Fuchsia 'Annabel' AGM (half-hardy, minimum temperature down to 0°C, 23°F) – very free-flowering, upright shrub with mid- to light-green foliage. Medium, fully-double flowers have pink-striped white tubes, white sepals with a slight pink flush, and pink-veined white corollas. Height and width 30-60cm (1-2ft)
  • Fuchsia 'Thalia' AGM (frost tender, minimum temperature 5°C, 41°F) – vigorous, upright shrub bearing dark olive-green leaves with purple-tinged undersides and abundant, very small, rich orange-scarlet flowers with very long tubes. Height and width 45-90cm (18in-3ft)

For further information on Award of Garden Merit (AGM) fuchsias, see the information from the RHS plant trials:
Hardy fuchsias
Other fuchsia trials

Links

RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
RHS Plant Selector
RHS Plant Finder
RHS Plant Trials

Fuchsia 'Thalia'

Fuchsia 'Thalia'

Problems Back to top

While fuchsias are relatively easy to grow, they can often suffer from an infestation from time to time. These are usually easy to control, such as glasshouse whitefly and vine weevil grubs (which eat away the roots), but there are some tricky problems too. Fuchsia gall mite is a new pest threatening to cause more problems, and it can be difficult to gain good control with fuchsia rust and red spider mite.

Links

Other pests and diseases to watch out for include:

Aphids
Capsid bug
Grey mould
Mealybug

Quick facts

Common name Fuchsia
Botanical name Fuchsia
Group Half-hardy perennial/shrub
Flowering time Summer to autumn
Planting time Hardy types: plant in spring or autumn. Half-hardy: plant out after danger of frost has passed
Height and spread Various
Aspect Full sun or partial shade
Hardiness Fully hardy to frost tender
Difficulty Easy to moderate

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