Fuchsias are one of the mainstays of the summer garden. They produce masses of delightful, pendant, bell-like flowers for months on end, from early June to the first severe frosts of autumn.
Fuchsias provide colorful displays in beds and borders, hanging baskets and all manner of containers. Hardy fuchsias can even be used to make informal flowering hedges. They are so popular, that fuchsias have their own national society – the British Fuchsia Society – plus numerous local clubs and societies.
Fuchsia Growing Tips
If you live in zones 6 or 7 and are growing fuchsia in your garden, you’ve probably chosen a “hardy” variety. Good fuchsia plant care entails planting them in soil with a pH level of 6 to 7. However, they’re fairly adaptable in many kinds of soil, so long as it drains well and quickly. Fuchsia roots don’t like to sit in water.
Fuchsias love lots of filtered light but are particularly intolerant of heat. Making sure your fuchsia baskets or planters have plenty of dappled shade and daytime temperatures well below 80 degrees F. (27 C.) will encourage a healthy bloom. Fuchsias also prefer cooler nighttime temperatures. If you’re expecting a period of hot summer weather, it’s good to have a backup plan for sheltering your fuchsia plants to support their blooming activity through the summer.
If you’re growing fuchsias indoors, a window with bright, indirect sunlight works best. However, they do like humidity and will languish if the air is too dry, whether indoors or out. Fuchsia blossoms are a wonderful treat for pollinators, so expect plenty of bees and hummers if you’re growing them outside.
Where to Plant Fuchsias
Plant fuchsias in sun or partial shade. A scorching, south-facing spot can be too much in the height of summer. Choose a sheltered spot, as the pendent flowers are easily blown off, especially on the larger flowering varieties. Fuchsias can cope with any type of soil, but it must be well-drained.
Many fuchsias grow extremely well in pots. Fuchsias with a trailing habit are ideal for growing in hanging baskets or containers, and bush types can be trained as standards. You can buy ready-grown plants, or, if you’re patient, try it yourself – it can take a number of years. Remove the lower side shoots in spring and support the plant with a cane. If growing standard fuchsias in containers they’re often better with no underplanting as they’ll soon fill the pot.
How to Plant Fuchsias
Plant hardy varieties in spring or early summer. Dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter before planting, and firm and water in well. Add a thick layer of mulch, such as well rotted manure or garden compost, to lock in moisture and feed the plant. Water regularly until established. Hardy fuchsias suffer if moved, so make sure you’ve picked the perfect spot.
Plant out half hardy fuchsias in late May, when all danger of frost has passed. Harden them off (gradually acclimatise them to conditions outdoors) for a week or two beforehand. If planting into pots, use a peat-free multi-purpose compost with added slow-release fertiliser. Water plants in well.
How to Care for Fuchsias
Once established, fuchsias growing in the ground will probably need a thorough watering once a week, especially during prolonged dry periods.
In containers, water regularly, especially in summer, to keep the compost evenly moist but not waterlogged. Do not allow the plants to sit in water.
Feed hardy fuchsias each spring and again in summer with a general granular plant food.
A high potash liquid plant food applied regularly throughout summer will encourage more, better blooms over a long flowering period until the first autumn frosts.
To keep plants flowering profusely, deadhead them regularly to remove faded flowers and the developing seed pod/fruit behind them.
The stems of hardy fuchsias should be cut down to just above ground level in late spring, preferably just as new growth is seen.
Pinch out the tips of shoots of young bush and trailing fuchsias to produce bushier plants that will flower more profusely. The tips of resulting sideshoots can also be pinched out if necessary, but excessive pinching out will delay flowering.
The most common fuchsia is a “hoop-skirted” hybrid, available in many forms (single, semi-double, double, and clustered). In addition to the flower structure, there are any number of colors available and hundreds of named varieties. In general, buy fuchsia for its flower type. All fuchsia hybrids require the same general cultural requirements. If you want a trailing fuchsia, look for the ‘Marinka’ (single flower) and ‘Pink Galore’ (double flower) hybrids—although there are dozens more. For bushier fuchsia, pinch off new growth on young plants.