Fuchsia Summer Care

Summer is almost here! We want to be able to keep our fuchsias looking good for months to come.

However to get to that situation – they do need some care and attention to keep them looking at their best! Luckily once fuchsias get going, they will flower until the first frosts or until you have had enough!

So here are my top tips for keeping your fuchsias at their best for many weeks to come!

fuchsia summer care•   Feed when it is really hot, watering becomes a priority so we tend to forget to feed on a regular basis and any goodness in the compost will tend to have been used up sometime ago. So make certain that your plants are still being fed.  A balanced feed at this time of the year will ensure lots of good flowers but also ensure that the plant is healthy and ready for the season ahead! I must admit to being a fan of the slow release fertilisers that you can add to the compost, they should last right through the summer – but if you feel the plants are starting to look tired then give them a boost with a real feed!

•   In really hot weather (it must come eventually!) and when you have to give a lot of water, the roots of the plants can be the indicator that the plant is under stress. Lift the plant out of the pot to have a look – fuchsia summer carewhite roots are a good sign – brown the fist sign of a potential problem.  The heat that builds up inside a plastic pot can damage the roots.  The modern terracotta pots that we use are thin so we need to protect the roots – poor roots equal a poor plant!  So I drop the pot into a second pot, this traps a layer of air and keeps the roots cooler, think of it as double-glazing for the roots. Alternatively growing plants in real terracotta pots can be better still as even on the hottest day of the year they still feel cool. However the only trouble is the weight, so use them for your tubs etc rather than plants that you have to move about!

•   Check that your plant is dry before you water it – in hot weather the symptoms of over watering – looking limp etc, are identical to that of a plant looking dry. So feel the compost, if it is really wet – then pop the plant in the shade for a while to reduce its stress!

•   The last few summers have tended to be windy. The plants have taken a real battering, standards can be particularly prone to problems toppling over or loosing their heads. Check their ties regularly or even pop in a second cane, it might look a little strange but at least your standard won’t lose its head.  Always make certain that the cane or support is taller than the standard so that all the head is supported.  Check the ties as they can loosen!  Most of my standards are against a fence and if they are looking a little prone to blowing over I actually tie them to the fence as in the middle of the summer they get a little top heavy.

•   Keep on deadheading your plants!  Removing dead flowers and seedpods will encourage your fuchsias to carry on flowering – it can be time consuming but it makes such a difference!

•   Juggle your plants – if something is looking tired then swap it for another – if it is part of a mixed tub then you can always replace one plant for another!

Let’s keep our plants flowering as long as possible this summer!

My family first got the fuchsia bug in 1963 when my late father stopped to admire the plants growing in a neighbour’s garden – they were fuchsias and he was hooked! Gradually the garden was overtaken by fuchsias – and in 1979 we moved as a family to a little village near Guildford, where to this day I grow lots of fuchsias (about 500 different types!) I am Assistant Secretary of The British Fuchsia Society and involved in anything and everything to do with fuchsias!

Pinching out Fuchsias

Let’s start at the beginning – your fuchsia plugs will be with you in the next few weeks and you will want to grow the best plants that you can whether they are for your patio or to enter in a local show! In my blogs I will be concentrating on how to grow fuchsias to get the maximum amount of flowers for the summer!

Let’s look initially at pinching out or stopping as it is often called.

What we are aiming for when we grow fuchsias, is lots of flowers, so I guess that we could just leave the plant to grow as it wants to and so generally we would get a straggly plant. However if we take control, by pinching out our fuchsias we will get the best results!

So what is pinching out? If you want to grow a fuchsia that has a bushy growth, then you are going to need to pinch or remove the growing tip at a fairly early stage. (If you want to grow a standard – don’t panic we will cover that another time!) I let the rooted cutting or plug grow to 3 pairs of leaves about 2” tall before removing the very tip of the plant. I remove the very smallest bit at the top; however if you want to use the bit that you take off as a cutting then you may want to let the plant grow slightly taller so that you can safely take off a larger tip. Remove the tip growth with a sharp pair of scissors with fine tips. Make certain that the cut is just above the next set of leaves, as a piece of stem left behind will rot away and can cause problems.

Removing the tip stimulates the side shoots into growth, so that instead of having one main stem, the side shoots will take precedence. You have started to grow a bushy plant! Then let those side shoots grow until they have two or three pairs of leaves, and then remove their growing tips! And so on etc. etc! Having pinched out several times you will have a nice bushy plant with lots of growth. Remember that each time you remove a growing tip that you are going to at least double the numbers of main shoots. Each plant will be different in its growth –with a slow growing plant or a very short jointed one you may want to leave longer between pinches. A fast growing and rampant plant may need to be pinched out more often.

Pinching out does several things – firstly it creates a bushy plant, secondly it gives you control of the plants growth and finally, and perhaps most importantly it gives you a degree of control of when the plant will flower!   As a general rule – single flowered fuchsias (those with 4 petals) will flower after about 60 days, doubles (the larger fluffy flowers) about 80 days and triphyllas (generally with the long thin orange flowers) about 100 days. The word “about” is vital, as we can never guarantee when the plant will flower but it does give us a rough guideline!

 

My family first got the fuchsia bug in 1963 when my late father stopped to admire the plants growing in a neighbour’s garden – they were fuchsias and he was hooked! Gradually the garden was overtaken by fuchsias – and in 1979 we moved as a family to a little village near Guildford, where to this day I grow lots of fuchsias (about 500 different types!) I am Assistant Secretary of The British Fuchsia Society and involved in anything and everything to do with fuchsias!

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