Fuchsias require very little care to put on a fantastic show, but for the best displays it pays to learn a few simple tricks and tips. Take a quick look at the T&M horticultural team’s trade secrets, and make sure your favourite fuchsia plants look their best all summer long.
Best growing conditions for fuchsias
For a fantastic fuchsia display this summer, here’s how to get the conditions right:
- Plant in fertile, moist, but well-drained soil, with shelter from cold, drying winds. Ahead of planting, work plenty of rotted compost or manure into the area with some slow release fertiliser.
- In patio containers and window boxes use a 50:50 mix of multipurpose compost and soil-based John Innes No.2 compost. Again, add some slow release fertiliser ahead of planting.
- In hanging baskets, stick to multipurpose compost to keep the weight down, but add some Swell Gel to reduce watering needs in the height of summer.
Best places to plant different types of fuchsia
Depending on the type of fuchsia you prefer, follow the ‘right plant in the right place’ rule to get the most from these elegant blooms:
- Use hardy fuchsia varieties for permanent planting – use as specimen shrubs or seasonal floral hedging.
- Use trailing fuchsia varieties in baskets and containers at height or as seasonal ground cover.
- Use upright fuchsia varieties in patio containers and window boxes or as gap fillers in the border.
How to grow on fuchsia plug plants
Young fuchsias are frost-tender and need to be grown on in warm, frost-free conditions before planting out at the end of May or early June. As soon as your plug plants arrive, pot them on into small pots or cell trays filled with multipurpose compost and wait until it’s warm enough to plant them out.
- Pinch out the soft stem tips once the plugs have put on three leaf sets – simply remove the tip and top pair of leaves with scissors, snips or fingers. This encourages bushier, compact plants and more flowers.
- Pinch out 2 or 3 more times once each of the resulting side shoots has developed three pairs of leaves – the first flowers will start to bloom 5-8 weeks after the last pinching.
- The early training above will create a bush.
- You could experiment and create a fan or espalier, similar to fruit tree training. This is best done with hardy varieties and done over several years to create a truly impressive flowering wall shrub.
- It’s easy to train a standard fuchsia (long bare stem with a lollipop canopy), but it can take 18 months to achieve. For more in-depth instructions, see our full article on growing a fuchsia standard.
- Feeding: Fresh compost should supply enough nutrients for 4-6 weeks of growth. Start to offer a balanced liquid feed after this time, once or twice a month through the season. Alternatively, for fuss-free feeding with impressive results, mix our long lasting Incredibloom® plant food with your compost at planting time for 7 months of controlled feeding.
- Watering: Keep compost and soil moist at all times. In the height of summer, baskets and small containers may need watering twice daily – do this early morning and late evening to avoid scorching the foliage.
- Deadheading: Look for faded blooms every time you go past your plants – the more you remove, the more your plants will bloom.
Try a little tenderness!
While there are some fantastic hardy fuchsias available it’s usually the tender varieties that provide the most impressive floral displays. You can overwinter container plants in a frost-free location for re-using the following year – but you might not need to! Tender varieties are getting tougher and tougher and you may find they’ll survive winter in your garden soil with little to no protection.
Experiment this year with one of your favourite plants – leave it in place at the end of the season, cutting it back by a third and mulching around the base. With luck you’ll be rewarded with re-growth next spring. If not, you can always reorder fresh plug plants in spring for guaranteed success next summer. If you’re looking for more help with growing and caring for your fuchsias, there are links to plenty of handy resources on our fuchsias hub page.
Author: Kris Collins
Kris Collins works as Thompson & Morgan’s communications officer, making sure customers new and old are kept up to date on the latest plant developments and company news via a wide range of media sources. He trained in London’s Royal Parks and has spent more than a decade writing for UK gardening publications before joining the team at Thompson & Morgan.