Fuchsia

Fuchsia are versatile plants in so far as they make both good border and container plants.

It is also a popular hobby plant with various dedicated societies dotted across the country.

The Fuchsia species of today,a few of which can be seen here, come mostly from cross breeding native species originating from Cental America.

Classification:

Basically they are classified as hardy or non-hardy shrubs.

Within each of these two groups they are usually sub-divided relative to their growing habit, e.g.

Bush, Upright and Trailing.

Hardy varieties will usually survive outdoors during the winter months in the milder areas of the UK, however, in the more exposed areas of the UK they will require some protection.

Non-hardy varieties should be moved into frost free conditions in late autumn.

Some of these will continue flowering through the winter if a minimum temperature of 8°C (46°F) is maintained.

Plant types:

Single varieties have 4 petals

Semi-double varieties have 5-8 petals.

Double varieties have layers of 8 or more petals.

Tryphillas have clusters of flowers.

Single

Semi-Double

Double

Tryphilla



Environment:

A temperature of 2°- 3°C (35°- 40°F) should be sufficient to keep plants alive over winter.

An ideal temperature in summer would be around 16°- 21°C (60°- 70°F)

At temperatures above 24°C (75°F) plants stop growing.

To alleviate this situation the plants should be shaded and well ventilated.

Alternatively, place the plants in a spot outside that is protected from the wind.

Cultivation

Start Up:

Week 4: Pot back stored plants, if not done prior to placing them in winter storage.

This is done by removing some soil and part of the root ball i.e. sufficient as to allow re-potting into a pot 25mm (1”) less, for example 125mm diam down to 100mm diam (5”- 4”).

Take care not to damage the new roots these are easily recognisable, they will be light coloured as opposed to the brown of the previous years growth.

Thoroughly moisten the compost, and allow to drain.

Keep the plants in a minimum temperature of 13°C (55°F)

Week 5: Start the new season’s growth, by spraying the plants with tepid water, keeping the plants in a minimum temperature of 13°C (55°F).

Soon the new buds will begin to appear.

Week 7-8: Prune fuchsia when the new buds appear. (see pruning section)

Propagation:

Fuchsias can be propagated from cuttings and seed.

Plants produced from seed will not necessarily be the same as the parent plant from which the seed were taken.

To increase stock of named varieties and favourites it is best to take cuttings!

Cuttings may be taken at any time of year, however, those taken from new season growth will generally flower later in the same year.

Cuttings taken in late summer will have to be over-wintered in a frost free location to flower the following spring.

Tips removed when pinching out the plants can be rooted to increase stock if necessary.

Week 12: Take tip cuttings.

If more are required, take them from Week 30 onwards.

Semi-hardwood cuttings can be taken in autumn (Week 35>) but these will take much longer to root.

Method:

Select healthy tips of stems, and trim to just below a leaf joint.(pics 1 & 2)

Cuttings should be approximately 75 mm (3") long* and have three or four pairs of leaves.(pic 3)

* Once you become more expert at this task one can use cuttings as small as 25 mm (1") long and have one pair of leaves.

Remove all but the top pair of leaves and the tip.(pic 4)

Trim stem to just below a leaf joint/node.

Dip cutting in a fungicide mixture to prevent damping off (Botrytis)

Dip the cutting in a rooting powder (optional)

Insert cutting into a pot, tray or cell tray containing a mixture of three parts seed compost, one part silver sand, one part perlite, and one part vermiculite.


1) Select Cutting

2) Sever cutting

3) Severed Cutting

4) Prepared Cutting

5) Cut leaves



If only taking a few cutting insert them around the rim of a pot filled with the same type of compost.

Cuttings with large leaves can suffer from rapid dehydration so reducing them in size can help to prevent this.(pic 5).

Water the cuttings well and place in a shaded propagator set to hold a temperature of around 13°C (55°F).

Alternatively, place the pot/container in a clear plastic bag and place in a warm spot indoors.

Cuttings should never be allowed to dry out, but be careful with the watering as more plants arelost by over watering than are lost by under watering.

Spray them regularly with clear water, possibly once or twice a day (depending upon the growing conditions) to prevent dehydration.

A spraying method adopted by some people to prevent the cuttings being attacked by botrytis and aphids, is to mix a fungicide and an insecticide with the clear water in the proportions recommended by the manufactures and spray with this.

Cuttings should root in about 12-14 days.

One can usually tell when they have rooted, the tip will have turned a darker green and the plant will look perkier.

The cuttings are then potted up. (see potting up)

Cuttings can also be rooted in water but the roots tend to be brittle.

Take normal cuttings cut and trimmed as described above and place upright in a suitable container of fresh water until rooted.

To reduce the chances of damaging the roots when potting up, dibble a hole in the compost large enough to take the root system, and then water in compost around roots rather than compacting it with your fingers.

Seed Propagation:

Own Seed:

Remove the ripe purple seed pods from the plant.

To remove the seed from the pod squeeze the pod between the forefinger and thumb onto a piece absorbent paper e.g. paper kitchen towel which will absorb any excess liquid.

Sow immediately on to damp seed compost and cover with silver sand then place in shaded propagator set @ 21°-24°C (70°-75°F)

Leave in seed tray until spring then prick out.

Commercial seed:

Week 10: Sow seed in pots/trays of seed compost and germinate at 21°-24°C (70°-75°F)

Germination should take up to two weeks.

Prick out when large enough to handle into individual 75mm(3") pots of potting compost and grow on at a temperature of 20°C (68°F)

Temperature can be reduced once plants are established in their pots.

Week 14-15: Start newly rooted cuttings off in a 75mm (3"pot), then pot on regularly into larger pots, i.e. before they become pot bound.

It is not good practice to pot up from a small pot to a much larger pot, to do so could adversely affect the plant, even kill it, use a pot approx. 25mm (1") larger than previous pot.

Re-potting Established plants:

This is generally done soon after plants have been started up in Jan/Mar.

Tease out the old compost, lightly prune old roots (brown ones) taking care not to damage new roots, (light coloured ones) then pot on into clean pot, usually one/two sizes larger than it was in previously, e.g. 75mm-100mm (3” to 4” ) or 100mm to 125mm( 4”-5”)

Do not go any larger than a 5”/6"diam.pot in its 1st.year.

When re-potting use a proprietary potting compost equivalent to Ji N°2 then water plants in.

Some people dip the root ball into an insecticide mixture at this stage to rid the plant of any unwelcome guests e.g. Vine weevil larvae.

It is unlikely that the plants will require any more water for approx. 8-10 days

Keep plants in cold frame during summer months to harden off.

Watering;

Throughout the growing season apply only sufficient water to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

Plants growing in borders may not require manual watering, whereas container grown plants, in particular those in hanging baskets, may require watering daily!

Do not leave containers standing in water.

Treat plants as individuals as some take up water faster than others.

Water plants early in the day rather than in the evening, particularly when they are in bud/flower this will reduce the risk of bud drop.

Always water from the top with a fine rose.

To water from the spout only can lead to washing compost away from the base of the plant thus depriving the plant roots of nutrients and protection.

Watering is not an exact science it all comes back to experience i.e. it depends on the size of plant, size of pot, weather, to name but a few.

Possibly the best way of judging the plants needs is by weight.

After watering a plant and the surplus has drained off, lift the pot and feel its weight, later when you lift the pot and it feels much lighter then water it.

Ease off on watering around Sept/Oct. to encourage a semi-dormant state.

In winter be very careful, keep the soil just slightly damp remember the plants are semi-dormant and don't require a great deal of water.

Always remember over watering kills more plants than under watering.

Feeding:

Border grown plants will need a top dressing of general fertilizer after pruning in spring and again during summer.

Hanging baskets will benefit from a balanced liquid feed in late summer.

When flowering begins (all situations) feed the plants with a high potash liquid feed.

Feeding can be a controversial subject among growers, perhaps this is governed by;

Where the grower resides.

The site where he/she grows them.

Type of potting compost used.

The variety grown.

If they are being grown for exhibition or pleasure.

The following list should give reasonable results in most situations.

First feed:

Approximately 10-14 days from first potting on.

Early Season:

Feed with a high nitrogen fertilizer to promote leaf growth. e.g. 3:0:1 or 3:1:1.

Mid Season:

Increase Phosphates to promote good root growth e.g. 3:2:1

Approx. 2 / 3 weeks prior to buds forming give a balanced feed e.g. 1:1:1

In Bud:

Change to high Potash feed e.g. 1:1:3. or 1:2:3.

Some growers will say give a balanced feed at this stage 1:1:1: the choice is yours.

Pests and Diseases:

At all times during the growing season, keep a watchful eye out for pests and diseases.

For example; Vine weevil, greenfly, whiteflies, red spider mite, and grey mould can be troublesome.

At the repotting stage look out for Vine weevil grubs feeding on the root system!

Fuchsias are susceptible to rust so at first signs of this remove infected leaves and spray with a systemic fungicide.

Stopping / pinching out:

Circa Week 24: Stopping is required to produce a well shaped plant and to encourage an abundance of flowers.

It will also assist in controlling when the plant will flower if they are to be used for exhibition.

When the fuchsia cutting has developed to 3 sets of leaves, pinch out the growing point, this will stimulate the production of side shoots.

A few weeks later, when side shoots have developed, pinch out the top set of leaves from each side shoot to encourage further branching.

Wait till the shoots (breaks) are large enough to allow the removal of approximately 6mm (1/4") from the tip of the shoot by means of the thumb and finger nail, (small scissors if you wish).

Generally the accepted timing for this operation is when the side shoots (breaks) have produced four sets of leaves, although some people stop after two pair, and on in extreme cases after one set.(the choice is yours)

When buds begin to appear, stop all the strong growing tips at least eight weeks prior to the flowering date required.

Ensure you make all the stops at the same time in order to achieve balanced flowering, generally final stopping times are as follows:

Singles: Stop 8 to 9 weeks before flowering is required.

Semi doubles: stop about 10 weeks before flowering is required.

Doubles: Stop 11-13 weeks before flowering is required.

Pruning / Training:

Pruning is done to control the size/shape of the plant and to ensure there's lots of new wood. (Fuchsias only bloom on new wood)

After flowering (Sept/Nov) they can be lightly pruned prior to storing.

Leave hard pruning till Jan/Mar depending upon the amount of heat available.

Generally cut back approx. 2/3rds.of previous years growth, leaving 2-3 joints (nodes) on each lateral.

Prune standards back harder than bush plants to encourage tighter growth.

Trailing/basket varieties require hard pruning to encourage growth from the base of the plant.

Training and Shaping Standards;

These are the recommended stem lengths as per The British Fuchsia Society

Measurements are taken from top of soil to the underside of the first break (branch)

Miniature standard: Min-150mm (6") - Max 250mm (10")

Quarter standard: Min-250mm (10") - Max 450mm (18")

Half standard: Min-450mm (18") - Max; 750mm (30")

Full standard: Min 750mm (30") - Max; 1050mm (42")

The head of a finished Standard should be approximately one third of the total height, and the width approximately two thirds of the height.

Method:

Select the stock plant you intend growing into a Standard and if possible but not essential, select a plant that throws sets of three leaves from the growing tip rather than the normal two.

This type of cutting will throw an extra branch at each node thus making a denser and bushier head.

Grow the plant on without stopping supporting as necessary to a cane inserted as closely as possible to the stem.

As the plant is gaining height do not remove any leaves from the stem,these are required to let the plant photosynthesize during its growing period,however,do remove the side shoots that form in axils of these leaves until the desired height has been achieved leave the top two or three (axils) eventually these will form the head.

Ensure that the plant never becomes pot bound as this will encourage it to bud and flower it will also retard the plants upward growth.

When the plant reaches the desired height stop it (see stopping ) then treat as a bush variety.

The leaves can be removed from the stem when the required shape is achieved, that is if they have not already fallen off naturally.

Winter Care:

It is essential that the plants (sometimes referred to as ‘sticks’ because of their appearance) be kept frost free and never be allowed to dry out.

Prior to storing defoliate plants by hand if they have not done this naturally.

Keep autumn rooted plants ticking over from November to January.

Store established plants by laying them on their sides in a frost free location e.g. greenhouse, shed, garage.

Largest plants at the bottom and the smaller plants on top, the closer the plants are laid together the better, then cover them all over with fleece, sacking, or peat.

Some people are known to excavate a hole in the garden or greenhouse border and bury the plants, pots and all.





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