Fuchsia Festival 2015!

A celebration of all things fuchsia. Including top tips from the experts and customer blogs.

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.

Hanging basket habits revealed

Nurserymans Choice Hanging Basket Mixed Collection from T&M

A vibrant display of hanging baskets can make your garden in summer pop!
Image: Nurserymans Choice Hanging Basket Mixed Collection from T&M

A recent Thompson & Morgan survey has revealed some surprising habits, when it comes to summer hanging baskets.

Love them or loathe them, nothing sets up the garden for summer like a vibrant display of hanging baskets. Thompson & Morgan, the UK’s leading mail order supplier of seasonal basket plants, asked the nation’s gardeners how they use hanging baskets to best effect. The findings were most interesting…

read more…

Growing a fuchsia standard

Fuchsia 'Angela' from Thompson & Morgan

Standard fuchsias such as ‘Angela’ adds height & colour to your garden.
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Growing a fuchsia standard is a great way to show off these elegant, jewel-coloured flowers while adding height and colour to your border. Also ideal for containers, standard fuchsias make a statement on your patio, balcony or positioned either side of your front door. Here’s how to train your own fuchsia plants into striking standards.

What is a fuchsia standard?

Fuchsia ‘Elma’ (hardy) (standard) from T&M

Ideal for containers, fuchsia standards should be overwintered in a frost-free position
Image: Fuchsia ‘Elma’ (hardy) (standard) from Thompson & Morgan

Fuchsia standards have a clear main stem topped with a dense, round head of foliage. Created through pinch pruning, they make superb specimen plants. However patience is required as it can take up to 18 months of careful training to achieve the lollipop style shape required. Here’s how to get yours started:

  • Allow a young fuchsia stem to grow upright, whilst removing all the side shoots as they develop. Don’t remove the leaves from the main stem, as these will feed the plant.
  • Tie the main stem to a cane to provide support as it grows.
  • Once the fuchsia plant reaches 20cm (8″) taller than the desired height, pinch out the stem tip.
  • New side shoots will be produced at the top of the plant and these will form the head of the standard. Pinch out the tips of each side shoot when it produces 2 to 4 sets of leaves. Continue pinch pruning until a rounded head has formed.
  • The leaves on the main stem will be shed naturally over time, or can be carefully removed.
  • To overwinter standard fuchsias, they should be moved to a frost-free position during the winter months to protect their vulnerable stem from frost damage, regardless of how hardy the variety is.

Check out our fuchsia hub page for more information and links to online resources about growing and caring for your fuchsias.

Author: Sue Sanderson

 

It takes two – Fuchsia planting partners

Fuchsia Colour Collection (hardy) from Thompson & Morgan

Discover your fuchsia’s perfect planting partners in our guide
Image: Fuchsia Colour Collection (hardy) from Thompson & Morgan

The world’s your oyster when it comes to choosing the best companion plants to complement your fuchsias. Seasonal tender fuchsias blend so well with other summer bedding plants that you’re almost spoilt for choice. The same applies to hardy types, which work well alongside a wide range of perennials in mixed borders. Here’s some tried and tested wisdom when it comes to finding the perfect partners for your fuchsias.

read more…

Winding down through autumn

Having had an unexpected rest from gardening due to a chest infection that has now lasted for around 6 weeks, and a computer crash following an update! Which ended up at the repairers for around nine days.  Thankfully I am now starting to recover and have managed to cut back old plants that were overdue and cleaning out pots. As I had to leave a lot of the work I noticed that plants seem to be having a second round of flowering – I guess you never give up learning especially when it comes to gardening.

Clematis' 3rd flowering of the season & unnamed trial fuchsia

Clematis’ 3rd flowering of the season & unnamed trial fuchsia

While clearing through some drawers during my enforced rest I found an old note book I had for my gardening in 1995! I had left notes to myself reminding me about getting fresh compost and not old bags because I had had a bad experience that year losing several plants. Also notes about cutting fuchsias and burying them until the spring amongst many other good ideas which obviously I took to heart as I seem to be doing them up to now..

1995 notepad & part of the container garden

1995 notepad & part of the container garden

With the weather cooling down quickly and leaves turning on my hydrangeas I noticed two Calla Lilies which have been in the garden for four years and have got to this stage in bud.  Now that a lot of the other plants have finished they are taking pride of place, and yesterday (last week October) discovered that one of them has now flowered. FUCHSIA FuchsiaBerry has had a lot of fruit.  I have tried them a couple of times and they taste quite smooth almost the texture of a cherry.

Still flowering laurentia & an unnamed trial antirrhinum

Still flowering laurentia & an unnamed trial antirrhinum

The Strawberry ‘Irresistible’ which I trialled about four years ago from Thompson and Morgan is producing fruit for the second time this year. The double antirrhinums, Sun Diascia ‘Eternal Flame’ and the three unnamed trial plants from this year – unnamed bidens, fuchsia and trailing antirrhinum are all pictured here. The latter, a peachy pink colour – have been flowering for the whole season. I wonder if they have been named yet?
In September I received an Invitation to attend the Bournemouth in Bloom presentations, thankfully Alan and I were well enough to attend. What a big surprise when I discovered I had won the Gold Award and overall winner for my Container Garden and Silver award for my Hanging Basket and Patio garden.  I was thrilled to bits and thank you Wendie Alexander for the lovely piece on Facebook.

Bournemouth in Bloom awards & Strawberry 'Irrestitible'

Bournemouth in Bloom awards & Strawberry ‘Irrestitible’

This year I have planted up some plants for the winter. We are usually visiting my Sister in California through October/November not getting home until the beginning of December, then of course we are into Christmas, so I have already planted tulips ready for the spring and thought that I would plant the daffodils in the garden so it doesn`t look so bare and then they can establish without much help.

Autumn colour & diascia's 2nd flowering

Autumn colour & diascia’s 2nd flowering

Alan has been busy taking the watering system out of the front and drying the computer timer, taking the battery out and storing for next year.  I usually throw the battery away as you can`t tell how much power is in it and it has been working for over five months. We leave the watering system in place in the back garden just putting the timer away as it is more sheltered than the front. My two tier stands have been taken down and sprayed with protective oil and the baskets cleaned and put away until next year. I take all the chains off the baskets and spray them, then hang them in my shed.

Calla Lilly & useful notes in 1995 notepad

Calla Lilly & useful notes in 1995 notepad

Now is the time to start thinking about next year`s plants etc and look forward to the new spring/summer catalogue from Thompson & Morgan so the dark evenings will be used thumbing through the catalogues…and then of course there is Christmas.  I have just received the Christmas catalogue from Thompson & Morgan and they have some wonderful flowers/plants in there, must start planning for some of them!!

Autumn tones & Tomato 'Sweet Aperitif'

Autumn tones & Tomato ‘Sweet Aperitif’

Hope all my gardening friends are keeping healthy and enjoying the autumn, take care until the next time………………….Jean

Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY – Part One

About a month ago I was fortunate enough to meet Kris Collins and Micheal Perry to discuss an idea I have about children’s gardening. Shortly before this I had been speaking to Wendie (Marketing Assistant at T&M) who offered me a Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY plant by Thompson & Morgan on the premise that I blogged about how I got on. Kindly, Kris had brought not 1 but 3 small plants for me and a gorgeous, decorative pot.
I was so excited to get the home and start my recordings! This is how I’ve got on so far and how I potted them up.

Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY x 3 & Decorative Pot

Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY x 3 & Decorative Pot

In one of the gardens I work in has a very large pine tree which drops a lot of cones. I collect these and use them in the bottom of my plant pots for drainage instead of crocs as they are light weight and they compost! So I filled my pot about a quarter of the way with the cones.

Cones filling Pot & Filled Pot with Compost

Cones filling Pot & Filled Pot with Compost

It’s recommended that for fuchsias to use a well-drained compost mix like John Innes No.3. Unfortunately I didn’t have any to hand and it’s not very easily sourced in my area (unless you want to pay the jumped up prices of my local garden centre). So I was a little bit naughty and used B&Q multipurpose compost that I always use and because I was going away for the weekend over the first May bank holiday and didn’t want my little ‘berry’s’ to suffer! I filled the pot to within 2 inches of the rim and firmed gentle with my hands.

Teasing out Roots of Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY & Planted Up Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY

Teasing out Roots of Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY & Planted Up Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY

Here comes the best bit for me. Getting my hands in the compost and wiggling my fingers about to make the holes for the fuchsias. Just look at all those roots!

I gently teased a few out on each plant to aid it’s rooting once in the pot. And this is the final product of combining three sweet, little fuchsias and one gorgeous pot!

Fully Potted Up Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY & Fully Grown Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY

Fully Potted Up Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY & Fully Grown Fuchsia FUCHSIABERRY

If you really want some amazing results then the best thing to feed your Fuchsias with is incredibloom®, on the shopping list of things for the garden for me. For the mean time though, I am using tea from my wormery, which is working wonders all over the garden.
I will keep you updated on how things are going and will post sneak peeks on Twitter too so follow @ThompsonMorgan and me @Lesley_Jane29 to see how they’re coming along.
Smile,
Lesley

Gardening in springtime

I am slightly behind with my blog this time, as after tests my husband Alan has been diagnosed with a rare cancer and the only hospital that deals with this in the South of England is St. Georges in London.  He is waiting for a date for an operation and will spend five days there.  Hopefully when all this is over we will be able to enjoy the summer, but I shall miss my right hand man in the garden for a while. He is already building my two tier and three tier stands, baskets and containers ready for me to fill, and checking the watering system we have in the front and back gardens.

Jean Willis' back garden

Jean’s back garden

The last storm of the winter ‘Katie’ managed to throw my containers and empty baskets about the garden yet again, including a large container full of daffodils which was very heavy because of the rain – I really can’t see the wind turning that over I thought although some of the daffodils were damaged which was a shame as they were really standing tall. My Andre Rieu tulips have already been out for a month and are really lovely, very straight. The petals opened gradually over the month and proved to be a long lasting tulip even through a snowstorm we had at the end of April. These have now finished flowering and the bulbs are drying off ready for planting later in the year.

Acer & tulips in the snow

Acer in the sun & tulips in the snow

The two greenhouses are full of plug plants which now that the warmer weather is here are really moving along nicely. I have kept them undercover at night because we have had some frosts – even in Bournemouth. There are  lots of garden ready plants to come by the end of May it will be really satisfying to see them all planted in baskets in the garden. The decision to buy some new containers was made as the new ones look a lot nicer and not so battered and faded.

Trough & decking in the snow

Trough & decking in the snow

I am trying something different this year and going to grow five Fuchsia Berry plants it looks quite interesting, and I am looking forward to seeing what the berries taste like when the time comes. I remember when I first grew a passionflower (the one that has an orange egg like fruit). I told Alan that if anything happened to me to tell everyone I had eaten it!  I didn’t know then that you could eat them at that time!
My Clematis ‘Josephine’ on the arch at the top of the garden has started  flowering with big flowers which appear to be green on some and green/pink on others.  I have been feeding them so hopefully they will soon be showing their normal colour pink.  Not sure why this happened though, very strange!
This year I decided to try and grow tomatoes from seed, ‘Akrom’ F1 never tried it before. I picked the three strongest plants and now they are growing nicely on the window sill. Thankfully the weather has turned warmer so will plant them in a grow bag outside. During the last week of April 27th to be exact we were treated to all sorts of weather including ‘Thundersnow’,  the heavier the snow the louder the thunder, very weird. It doesn’t appear to have damaged anything as it only lasted just over an hour. There are a couple of photos of the snow with the Andre Rieu tulips looking pretty and all covered in snow.

Four troughs in the back garden

Four troughs in the back garden

I have been asked to trial some unnamed fuchsias and bidens and also trailing antirrhinums.  At the time of writing they are doing very well; especially as we have had a week of really lovely weather. This weekend is forecast to be cold again, poor plants not sure whether to grow or not! I have already planted up my geraniums into a container with a trellis from Thompson & Morgan, I will train them on the trellis instead of trailing them.  I also planted out the Petunia ‘Peach Sundae’ and within a couple of days Wow! they flowered, and are very pretty too.  Also included in the photos is one of my acers with the morning sun on it looking really lovely this morning. This year I am using Thompson & Morgan incredicompost® I am very pleased with how easy it is to use with no bits and pieces in it like some compost. It usually takes me quite a few minutes taking the pieces of wood and bark out before I can use it but this time I didn’t have to do any of that. We will see how it goes, and I will keep you informed.

Thanks for reading see you next month all being well.  Jean.

Storm Imogen causing more trouble for our bloggers

As Amanda and Geoff have already mentioned the troubles of Storm Imogen and what it left behind. It took out our fence in the front garden.   On getting up early the next morning discovered that the posts had snapped clean off and one of the panels was swinging out across the public footpath so at 8am just as it was getting light I was trying to hang on to the panel while Alan unscrewed it to make it safe until the gale had died down. What a mess! It ended up with us replacing the complete fence as damage was discovered on two more posts and also the panels.

 

New fence, finials and water feature

 

Alan has been busy repainting the new fence and also this time putting in gravel boards which have been painted with a rubber solution paint and also the posts at the bottom in the hope it will stop them from rotting over the next few years. We have now bought some finials to finish the top of the posts. Two of our older grandsons spent the day putting the new fence up for us… A job well done.

 

Lilies, Tree lilies and Jean with lilies

 

On checking the border in the front of the fence found that my Tree Lily bulbs thankfully hadn`t been disturbed when putting the new fence in, hopefully they will stay there for a little longer until the better weather gets here. I have attached a few photos of the beautiful tree lilies from last year. I originally had three Clematis on the front fence but I am going to transplant them to a more convenient spot in the back garden, it will also give me more room to make it a proper `border` as it is only 15” wide and before was covered by the Clematis leaves. Does anyone else have a problem with using pencil on the plant labels (you know the ones I mean, flat white ones) it seems that during the winter the weather has wiped the names off!! I also tried using a fibre tip pen but that didn`t work either. It certainly gets frustrating as you can well imagine!

 

Incredicompost, tulips and Fuchsia berry

 

I have now received my delivery of incredicompost® which is under cover for the time being, so looking forward to be able to plant my seeds and ready for when the first plug plants arrive.

A few days ago the weather warmed up a little so spent the afternoon cutting back a lot of the plants, clearing spaces ready for the new season and getting rid of weeds… It never ceases to amaze me how fast the weeds grow and appear from nowhere in all sorts of weather with no help from fertiliser. I noticed the Clematis on the arch at the top of the back garden is now in bud and many new shoots on the climbing rose that grows with it. I was very surprised to see some of my tulips already in flower by Valentine`s Day. This year I have planted two packets of 10 tulip bulbs called Andre Rieu which is a slightly darker pink and already showing signs of buds although they will need to get a little taller first.

 

Peppermint Stick and Fuchsia berry

 

Just as we thought that the really bad weather had passed, found this morning that there had been very heavy torrential rain with very strong winds overnight. As it got light discovered that several of my empty containers, which had been stacked away for the winter, had been blown across the garden and path.   The weather was still lousy so just left them there until the weather got a little better and we were able to go out and restack them. Thankfully the new fence was still in one piece.

I had noticed that myStrawberry ‘Irrestistible’ which I first had as customer trials a few years ago, getting some leaves so put the window box outside Alan`s workshop where they always do well. Today has been a sunny day and the cold wind has dropped so have cleaned out the dead leaves etc. from the strawberry plants, fed them and a top coat of compost. This year I have bought a raspberry cane ‘Glen Prosen’ so hopefully will get some fruit this year. It will be grown in a container with a frame to support it.

According to the weather forecast it looks like a reasonable weekend so will be able to sort out all the baskets – mainly the easy fill kind – and containers and make sure they are all cleaned. Also I will sow some seeds in pots for the greenhouse. As mentioned previously I only have the plastic kind with no heat so will put the pots on the kitchen windowsill to start them off.

It is now time to put the replacement Garda Falls fountain back in place. The coating on the original one had started to peel back showing the white underneath. The garden centre where I purchased it said they needed to send it back to find out why it had happened.

 

Central Park, Petunia Frills & Spills and Garda Falls

**Further to my November Blog re Gardening in California and the drought they were experiencing, I am pleased to say they have had at last some measureable rain which is now making a lot of difference to their lawns as they turn green again and the plants showing how they appreciate it. There are a couple of photos, one of Peppermint Stick geranium and one of the lake in Central Park which has been dry for many months, now full of water and the wildlife love it.**

Over the past few days I have started to receive some of my postiplug plants: Fuchsia Berry, the ones where you can eat the fruit once the flower has finished, and Frills and Spills Petunias which always put on such a wonderful show, and have been busy potting them up, so now it begins…………….

Hope all the gardeners enjoy the weekend and are able to make headway in their gardens, most of all enjoy and have fun. `Til the next time………..

A look into the ‘fuchsia’

When you look at how many fuchsia varieties are available in the UK, in Europe, even worldwide, you would be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing left to discover or breed. But, you are wrong.

As a product developer, I have a mental wish list that covers pretty much every Genus… and for fuchsias it’s just as long a list than any other. My dreams cover: a true yellow fuchsia, a fuchsia with tasty berries, triphyllas for hanging baskets in every colour, more exciting coloured hardy fuchsias…. you get the idea!

fuchsiaWhilst some plant breeders may be beavering away on these projects behind closed doors, they could still be 20 years or more away. However, there’s some superb fuchsias right around the corner too.

We could soon be seeing fuchsias more suited to growing in sunny borders, which could change how they can be used in the garden or the patio. For many years, fuchsias have flagged in full sun, and far prefer dappled conditions. Their versatility will grow!

One of the most interesting breeding angles to emerge recently has been one that’s responding to European tastes; table top fuchsias. These small beauties, called the Bella Series, are covered in blossom, jutting out in every direction, not just dangling and hiding in the leaves!

And then, how could you have missed it? One of the biggest developments in fuchsias, the climbers!! Well, they’re not truly climbers, as they have no tendrils, but varieties such as new ‘Pink Fizz’ have upright growth, and reach 6 feet in just a few months too! Finally, an alternative to the predictable choice of clematis!

Growing a Standard Fuchsia – by Carol

There are so many ways to grow a fuchsia however perhaps the most effective is as a standard. Standards give height to a garden display as well as looking fantastic in tubs on the patio. They will make a feature for your garden for the summer, but remember that they must be kept frost free during the winter as the stem can be very prone to frost and if they caught by frost then you will get a great bush next year!

Firstly choose a good strong growing fuchsia, it can be any type as long as it can be made to co-operate! Therefore a fuchsia for hanging baskets can be grown into a wonderful standard with a weeping head.

standard fuchisa

Hanging Baskets

So let’s start at the very beginning, standards if you think about them they are really just bushy plants grown on top of a stick, so don’t panic they really are simple to grow! For a bush we take the growing tip out when the cutting is 2 or3” tall.  For starting a standard we do the reverse and leave it in position. When your young plant is tall enough then gently tie it to a small cane, either using twist-its or cut up tights!  Aim to keep the main stem as straight as you can the straighter the stem the stronger it will be!

standard fuchisa

As the young plant starts to grow upwards you will notice that small shoots start to grow above the leaves, given time they would grow into the side shoots, but as we would like the plant to grow upwards, they will need to be carefully removed.  However, don’t get too enthusiastic and only remove those down the base of the stem, leaving the small shoots in the top 5 or 6 leaf joints. Eventually they will become the head of your standard – if you do not keep that sort of number you can end up with an umbrella structure. (The perfect standard should have a ratio of 1/3rd head and 2/3rds stem.)  Carry on tying the plant to the cane, removing the side shoots as it grows – stop when the plant has reached the height that you want.  Then carefully remove the growing tip and this will then encourage the side shoots to grow more.  Once the side shoots have reached two pairs of leaves, pinch out their growing tips and soon you will start to see the head develop.  Only then when you have a good head developing do you remove the leaves from the stem!

There are many different ideas on growing a standard and many will say hat the best standards are grown only if they are not allowed to flower in the first year – great in theory but it takes a strong person to keep on pinching out all summer and not to enjoy them flowering – the choice is yours!

Some other points to consider!

•    Standards given good care and attention can live for many years – our oldest is about 40 years old!  It is woody but it flowers well – so a standard can be a long-term plant to own and grow!

•    When deciding on the height of your standard – consider the practicalities – for example where am I going to put it in the winter?   How much space do I have in my greenhouse? So don’t get carried away….

•    If you garden is exposed, then shorter standards can be better as they can be sheltered!  Always put good stakes in your standards – more than one if necessary rather than seeing one loose its head. Make certain that the cane is as tall as the plant so that the head can be tied to it!  If necessary when they are out for the summer – put a brick in the pot to weigh them down!

•    Have fun and experiment!

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