How to pinch out fuchsias

Fuchsia ‘Swingtime’ from Thompson & Morgan

Compact bushy fuchsias look fantastic planted in patio containers
Image: Fuchsia ‘Swingtime’ from Thompson & Morgan

Longtime fuchsia enthusiast Carol Gubler explains here how to pinch out your fuchsia plants to control flowering time, grow bushier plants, and kickstart extravagant blooming. Carol draws from a lifetime of experience with these fabulous flowers to create excellent tips and advice you can trust. Don’t miss the video demonstration below too!

How to pinch out a young fuchsia plant

Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ from Thompson & Morgan

Pinch out your fuchsias to produce more flower bearing stems
Image: Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ from Thompson & Morgan

What we’re aiming for when we grow fuchsias is lots of flowers. If we just leave the plant to grow as it wants to, generally we’d get a straggly plant with fewer flowers. However, if we take control by pinching out our fuchsias, we’ll get the best flowering results!

So what is pinching out? If you want to grow a fuchsia that has a bushy growth, then you’re going to need to pinch or remove the growing tip at a fairly early stage. If you want to grow a fuchsia standard, avoid pinching out the top growth and follow a standard specific growers guide.

I let the rooted fuchsia cutting or plug plant 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 to strike 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. Make sure that the cut is just above the next set of leaves, as a piece of stem left behind alone may rot.

How does pinching out fuchsias produce more flowers?

Fuchsia ‘Hawkshead’ from Thompson & Morgan

Control your fuchsia flower displays in summer by pinching out young plants
Image: Fuchsia ‘Hawkshead’ from Thompson & Morgan

Removing the growing tip stimulates the side shoots into growth, so that instead of having one main stem, the side shoots will take precedence. Let those side shoots grow until they have two or three pairs of leaves, then remove their growing tips. Repeat this process until you’re happy with your fuchsia form. Having pinched out several times you’ll have a nice bushy plant with lots of growth.

Remember that each time you remove a growing tip, you’re going to at least double the numbers of main shoots. Each plant will be different in its growth – for a slow growing plant or a very short jointed one, you may want to allow more time between pinches. A fast growing and rampant plant may need to be pinched out more often.

What other benefits come from pinching out my fuchsia plants?

Fuchsia ‘Royal Mosaic’ from Thompson & Morgan 

Control when your fuchsia flowers by pinching out the growing tips
Image: Fuchsia ‘Royal Mosaic’ from Thompson & Morgan

Pinching out does several things, firstly it creates a bushy plant, secondly it gives you control of the plant’s growth and finally, and perhaps most importantly, it gives you a degree of control of when the plant will flower!

Different flower types flower at different times. As a general rule:

The word “about” is vital, as we can never guarantee when the plant will flower but it does give us a rough guideline!

Top advice for pinching out plant tips – video guide

Watch the video to see how you can improve the flowering capacity of your fuchsia plants.

For more help with growing and caring for fuchsias, visit our fuchsias hub page for a wealth of practical information.

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!

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