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.
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!
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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