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Fuchsia

How do you overwinter fuchsias, and when should I take cuttings for next year?

Many fuchsias are quite hardy and can be left in the garden to overwinter, although it is always wise to take a few cuttings just in case of particularly bad weather.

In cold areas, or if bad weather is forecast, it is a good idea to cover the crowns of the plants with a mulch of straw, bark or bracken for additional protection.

In spring the plants can be cut back to strong new buds.

Non-hardy fuchsias should be moved in to frost-free conditions in early autumn.

Lift and pot up plants that have been bedded out.

If you have a heated greenhouse they may continue to flower during the winter, but if you do not, then trim them back and keep them almost dry and in a cool position.

In spring, repot them, prune them hard and water well to encourage new growth, and do not plant them out until all risk of frosts has passed.

Fuchsias are easy to grow from cuttings which can be taken from non-flowering shoots at any time of year.

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My fuchsia leaves are being stripped by a large spotted caterpillars, can you identify them, and suggest a control?

Sounds like the caterpillar of the elephant hawk moth.

In gardens they feed on fuchsia and Busy Lizzie, and in the wild, on willow herb.

The large spots on the side of the body are false eyes.

When threatened, the caterpillar retracts the front part of the body and rears up, appearing much larger and menacing than it really is.

When danger is over the front of the body extends again, looking a little like an elephant's trunk.

The caterpillar pupates just under the soil and pink and pale brown adults appear in June the following year.

Control:

In cases of severe damage, you could remove the caterpillars by hand and conserve them by putting them onto wild willow herb plants away from your garden.

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